August 8, 2018 / 4:42 PM / 3 months ago

Libya's sovereign wealth fund to move offices after abductions, threats

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya’s sovereign wealth fund has decided to move from its main office in Tripoli due to security breaches after a number of staff were threatened or abducted, it said in statement on Wednesday.

The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), which holds about $66 billion-worth of mostly frozen assets, has long been at the centre of leadership disputes and power struggles that reflect Libya’s political splits.

These have sometimes played out at the LIA’s main offices in the Tripoli Tower office block, where the head of the fund appointed two years ago by Libya’s internationally recognised government, Ali Mahmoud Hassan Mohamed, had managed to install himself following a dispute with a rival claimant.

Tripoli is largely controlled by a handful of powerful armed groups claiming official status that have expanded their economic interests, penetrated key institutions and frequently abduct rivals with impunity.

“The Libyan Investment Authority is faced with a series of violations and abuses due to blatant interference by armed members of the battalion charged with protecting the tower,” the LIA said.

“The authority rejects these actions and announces the transfer of its headquarters from Tripoli Tower as a result of security breaches.”

The LIA said staff had been threatened, intimidated and had their movements restricted, and that some employees were abducted and held at a nearby base. Heads of departments were told not to comply with instructions from management.

“The IT manager was forced to suspend the e-mail of the chairman of the board of directors, the chief executive officer, the chief financial officer and the operations manager,” the LIA statement said.

The LIA was created to invest oil revenues earned before a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled long-serving ruler Muammar Gaddafi and divided Libya into territory controlled by rival factions.

The fund has been involved in several high profile international lawsuits over investments made prior to 2011.

Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Editing by Aidan Lewis and Peter Graff

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