By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli/London, 17 December 2014:
The Libyan Audit Bureau announced that it has referred three Libyan ambassadors to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. It has also frozen any further transfers of funds to these embassies. The three embassies are those in Cairo, Tunis and Belgrade.
The move comes, the Audit Bureau said at a press conference today, after the three embassies refused repeated requests to have their finances inspected by the Bureau, as permitted by Libyan law.
In official letters released by the Audit Bureau it was revealed that the Libyan embassy in Cairo has not accounted for the spending of LD 831 million, the Belgrade embassy for LD 110 million and the Tunis embassy for LD 641 million.
However, the Audit Bureau said that its concerns are not limited to just these three embassies or these sums. In total, the Bureau revealed that over LD 6 billion had been transferred to 14 Libyan embassies abroad up until 30 November 2014.
The Bureau said that it was its duty to follow up and inspect on the disbursement of public funds to ensure that there was no misappropriation of public funds.
The decision to investigate the embassy’s accounts was not politically motivated, the Tripoli-based Audit Bureau insisted.
“During the last four years the government has transferred more than LD 6 billion to these 14 embassies, which is why we chose them,” manager for the planning department of the Libyan Audit Bureau Dr Yousef Khalifa said. “These embassies deal with a lot of payments for students and patients needing treatment abroad but because of this large amount, we need to check exactly how this money was spent.”
The move to refer the three ambassadors to the Public Prosecutor was purely because of the lack of cooperation from the embassies, Khalifa said. A request has been submitted to the Supreme Court for a legal ruling to stop the two ambassadors and acting ambassador from working. “Because the ambassador is the head of the embassy, he is held responsible in these situations,” He explained. “We have asked the court to recall the ambassadors for questioning and further investigations.”
The decision affects the ambassador to Serbia Tajouri Shradi and ambassador to Egypt Mohamed Faiaz Jibril, and the acting ambassador at the embassy in Tunisia, Mohamed El-Maalool.
The Bureau also insisted that the moves were aimed at safeguarding Libya’s wealth. “The Libyan Audit Bureau is an independent institution, it is not for any political body,” a member of its international cooperation department explained. It had decided to go public with the current situation as part of an ongoing plan to boost transparency.
However, despite the claims of political impartiality, the move is being seen by the government in Beida and the House of Representatives in Tobruk as an attack by an organisation now firmly under the influence of Libya Dawn, the General National Congress and its Hassi government. The three ambassadors are known to be firm supporters of the HoR and the government.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had, in any event, already instructed Libyan embassies to have no dealings with the Bureau and earlier this week the HoR appointed a new head – Omar Abdulrabah Saleh Al-Barasi – and deputy head for it. They are expected to be based in either Beida or Tobruk. The government had already set up a parallel Central Bank under its direct authority.
The move also follows legal advice given to the Thinni government that it can set up new accounts under its control, not that of the Tripoli-based Central Bank, to receive oil revenues.
It was this development, it is believed, that triggered last week’s attempt by Misratan-led forces to take control of the oil terminals and prevent the Thinni government bypassing the Central Bank and the Bureau and so accessing the revenues. [/restrict]