TRIPOLI Feb 6 A claimant for the chairmanship
of Libya's sovereign wealth fund says he has retaken control of
the fund's head office in Tripoli, in a challenge to a
U.N.-backed government that tried to sideline him.
The move is the latest step in a long-running feud over the
$67 billion Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) that reflects
Libya's political turmoil and has complicated prospects for any
return to regular management of the fund.
Much of the fund has been frozen under sanctions, though it
remains one of Libya's key financial bodies. It has also been
involved in high-profile litigation, including cases against
Goldman Sachs and Societe Generale .
The U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) named
the steering committee to run the LIA in August, as it tried to
gain control over institutions that had been split under two
other, competing governments.
The decision was contested by AbdulMagid Breish, who was
appointed chairman in Tripoli in 2013 and says he was evicted
from LIA headquarters in September by guards acting on behalf of
the GNA. [nL8N1C70HY}
Breish reentered the building on Sunday. On Monday he
received a Reuters reporter in his office, saying a ruling by
the Tripoli Appeals Court last month had given him the right to
return by freezing the decree that created the steering
Breish denied GNA claims that he had forced his way into
Tripoli Tower, where the LIA is based.
"I entered the office without any use of force," he said.
"The tower's administration informed the steering committee and
they left without any violations or the use of militias."
Staff in the building appeared to be working normally.
Each side claims the LIA's assets could be at risk unless it
is in control, with Breish citing litigation cases that could be
hampered by the involvement of the steering committee. "Some
cases in front of international courts have a deadline," he
He acknowledged that the Tripoli Appeals Court ruling was
not definitive, adding: "The court continues to hold sessions
until a final decision is reached ... but the initial decision
The GNA's leadership, the Presidential Council, reacted by
warning all state institutions not to deal with Breish.
"In order to preserve public money it is forbidden to deal
with any person or party that does not have legal and legitimate
status according to the decisions of the GNA's Presidential
Council," it said in a statement.
Reached by phone, the head of the steering committee, Ali
Mahmoud Hassan Mohamed, said he had no comment.
The steering committee says Breish illegally reappointed
himself after resigning as chairman in 2014. Breish says he
stepped aside for 10 months after facing a legal challenge, and
that the GNA lacks the authority to replace him.
The U.N. Security Council said last year that it was
prepared to consider changes to sanctions on the LIA only once
the GNA could confirm that it exercised full control over the
fund, as well as Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) and its
But the country remains deeply divided between factions
based in Tripoli and the east. A government in eastern Libya,
which rejects the GNA, has tried to set up rival branches of the
LIA, the NOC and the central bank.
(Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Andrew Roche)