Tripoli, 10 June 2013:
Libya is pressing the South African authorities, as a matter of urgency, to help stop Qaddafi-era assets from . . .[restrict]being spirited out of their country.
At the start of May, Tripoli urged Pretoria to give “urgent” assistance in blocking more than $1 billion of former regime assets identified by investigators hired by the Libyan government.
The hunt for stolen funds has been ramped up this year, which may have prompted attempts to move them elsewhere.
The assets, according to South Africa’s Sunday Times , include money, gold and diamonds, which are being held in four separate banks, as well as by two local security companies.
South Africa froze Qaddafi and regime-era associates’ assets on 11 March 2011 in response to UN Security Council Resolution, passed 15 days earlier.
Following meetings in December 2012 and April 2013 with the South African President, Jacob Zuma, and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Libyan Ministers have written to the South African government calling for their help in finding and securing the assets.
Two letters, made public by the Sunday Times, authorise a company identified as Sam Sert Ltd to help investigate the missing assets. Sam Sert are also to secure “all funds and assets that have been illegally possessed – obtained looted, deposited or hidden in South Africa and neighbouring countries” by Qaddafi, family members, close associates, or private and government business people.
The letters, dated 9 May, are from Libya’s Justice Minister, Salah Marghani, and Finance Minister, Alkani A. Alkani, addressed to their South African counterparts, Jeff Radebe and Gordhan.
According to these communications, investigators currently working for the Libyan government on the case have uncovered substantial funds and assets in South Africa and neighbouring states. They further state: “It also appears that certain unauthorised persons and companies are trying to move the funds illegally.”
The letters called for the “kind interference and assistance” of South Africa’s Justice and Finance Ministries, “to prevent any such illegal attempts against Libyan funds and assets.” They also “highly and urgently” requested cooperation in allowing Sam Sert to secure the assets and make these available to the Libyan government.
The former regime also invested in property in South Africa. The Libyan Arab African Investment Corporation (LAAICO) has a stake in South African luxury hotel-chain Legacy, which has 23 hotels and resorts. Through its 100 percent shareholding in real-estate Ensemble Hotel Holdings, LAAICO’s stake in Legacy is apparently up to 40 percent. These investments do not appear to be part of the current investigation.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma is thought to be the last foreign leader to see Qaddafi during the revolution. Zuma made a second mediation mission on behalf of the African Union to the country’s former dictator in May 2011, with Nato temporarily lifting its no-fly zone over Libya allowing Zuma’s South African Air Force plane to land. [/restrict]