By Libya Herald reporter.
Malta, 29 January 2015:
The Libyan Post Telecommunications Information . . .[restrict]Company (LPTIC) has been thrown into total confusion at boardroom level as a result of the political infighting in Tripoli between the two Libya Dawn and House of Representatives political streams.
The LPTIC is the holding company that controls all of Libya’s seven state-dominated ITC companies: Libyana, LTT, Hatif Libya, Al-Madar, Al-Jeel Al-Jadeed, LITC and Bareed Libya.
In an official, but unsigned or stamped, statement released on 23 January posted on the company’s official Facebook page, the LPTIC said that it has frozen all its bank accounts except for salaries and operational expenses, after being attacked and forced to handover money by armed militias.
The LPTIC Facebook page is thought to be controlled by the holding company’s chairman, Faisel Gergab.
The freezing of all accounts, the LPTIC statement said, is a preemptive legal move in order to safeguard its assets and liquid funds. It has communicated with all the banks representing it subsidiaries, it said, to enforce the decision after a legal enforcement order.
The statement claimed ‘‘an armed militia acting outside the law’’ broke into the LPTIC HQ in Tripoli and ‘‘forced a series of administrative and managerial procedures and implemented financial transactions to illegally transfer large amounts of money from LPTIC’s Gumhouria bank account’’.
LPTIC warned all its state subsidiaries to refrain from dealing with this outlaw group and warned that it shall take all necessary legal procedures against the militia group.
However, on 25 January, chairman Gergab also issued a second letter posted on the official LPTIC Facebook page, this time signed and stamped.
In the second letter, he warned the heads of his subsidiaries that as a result of the attempts by some to fool around with the funds and assets of the companies, they should keep away from the ‘’political in-fighting’’, and keep to disbursing only one-twelfth of salaries and running costs of companies at any one time.
Chairman Gergab warned that no payments, contracts or agreements should be made without AGM approval and that if any were sanctioned, they would be null and void and liable to persecution.
Gergab said that an AGM of the group of companies had taken all the necessary legal steps domestically and internationally to ensure that the chairman and the current Board are the only legal representative of LPTIC and added that they were still carrying out their duties.
Nevertheless, a well-placed source at the LPTIC informed Libya Herald on terms of strict anonymity due to fears of reprisals, that the LPTIC has never been stormed by militias and that its subsidiaries have continued to function normally since the fighting ended in Tripoli in September.
Moreover, the source revealed that chairman Gergab has in fact been out of the country, or at least out of the Libya Dawn controlled parts of western Libya since summer – when Libya Dawn forces invaded Tripoli.
Upon his departure, Gergab had appointed one of the General Managers of one of LPTIC’s subsidiaries as his temporary replacement as chairman. However, the legal empowerment of the stand-in chairman was limited in duration, and when it expired, the general manager had refused to accept an extension of his mandate as a stand-in chairman.
As a result, the well-placed source said, the LPTIC, as well as all its subsidiaries, has remained in a state of limbo since the middle of last year, as the LPTIC’s Board of Directors also acts as its AGM.
Chairman Gergab, the source said, is perceived as a supporter of the HoR in Tobruk and its Abdullah Thinni government in Al-Beida. The source said that Gergab is in fear of intimidation, or worse, from the Libya Dawn faction if he were to return to Tripoli.
Moreover, he fears being coerced into either handing over funds or giving up chairmanship and control of the LPTIC to a Libya Dawn appointee. After the GNC/Libya Dawn Omar Al-Hassi government appointed a new Telecommunications Minister, the new minister sent messages to Gergab to return to Tripoli, the source said. Gergab failed to return to Tripoli.
The Hassi Telecoms Minister subsequently appointed a temporary Steering Committee until the appointment of a permanent Board of Directors at the time of the convening of the first AGM.
However, Gergab, still holed abroad or outside Tripoli, refused to recognize the appointment of this temporary Steering Committee, and refused to surrender whatever official stamps, documentation etc were in his custody, and continues to consider himself as the official and legitimate absent chairman of LPTIC, explained the source.
He continues to act as if he is the chairman, the source said, issuing letters and statements, using the official LPTIC stamp and the Facebook page, which seems to be under his control, speculated the source.
However, referring to the letter posted on the Facebook page announcing the storming of the LPTIC by armed militias and the diversion of some of its large funds, the source who has been turning up to work regularly, assured Libya Herald that this did not occur.
The continued absence of chairman Gergab, meanwhile, has meant that the LPTIC has not been able to hold an AGM which would enable it to replace members of its Board of Directors or its chairman, and the group of companies continue to be kept going without any major decisions being made until matters are resolved.
Libya Herald has contacted the Chairman of LPTIC, inviting him for his feedback and comment, but at the time of publication, has received no response from him. [/restrict]