By Sami Zaptia.
London, 27 July 2018:
The Tripoli-based Central Bank of Libya (CBL) has categorically refuted claims by the Khalifa Hafter-led and mainly eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) that the CBL had financed the recent military operation to occupy the eastern-based oilfield crescent led by former Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) regional commander Ibrahim Jadran.
In its statement released late on Wednesday, the CBL said, ‘‘with reference to what some media outlets had carried over the past two days by the official spokesman, Brigadier Ahmed Mesmari, who claimed that the Central Bank of Libya had transferred money to Ibrahim Jadran: The central bank of Libya categorically denies the veracity of this claim in its entirety and in its detail and deplores the slander contained in the statement’’.
The CBL went on to assure that it ‘‘asserts that the bank’s transfers are carried out in accordance with the spending authorizations issued by the Ministry of Finance and in conformity with the provisions of the relevant laws’’.
Furthermore, it pointed out that its ‘‘welcome a few days earlier of the call by the President of the Presidential Council (Faiez Serraj) to review and scrutinize all its transactions in order to confirm the bank’s confidence in the integrity of its proceedings and to refute all allegations and fabrications’’.
The CBL went on to say that it ‘‘takes the opportunity to assure the Libyan people that the systematic campaigns aimed at the bank from several parties will not discourage the determination of those who carry out their national duty to guard and preserve the assets of the Libyan people’’.
With regards to the right of a free media, debate, accountability and transparency, the CBL concluded that ‘‘while respecting and affirming the right the media and those of citizens to have access to the truth, the Bank cautions that it retains the right to prosecute all those who use the media to abuse the bank and its employees by spreading fallacies and fabrications and by disseminating fabricated and baseless information’’.
The CBL statement comes on the back of LNA and Khalifa Hafter’s personal spokesperson Ahmed Mesmari claims earlier this week to Libyan media that the Governor of the Tripoli CBL, Sdek El Kabir, was involved in corruption and the financing of terrorism.
Mesmari claimed that Kabir had illegally handed over LD 11 million to an airline belonging to Abdul Hakim Belhadj and supported terrorist leaders with funds, including Ibrahim Jadran. Abdul Hakim Belhadj is seen as an Islamist foe by the LNA part of the militia cartel controlling Tripoli.
Mesmari called on Kabir to handover of his duties as CBL Governor to Mohamed Shukri, who had been selected by Libya’s internationally recognized parliament, the House of Representatives (HoR), as the new Governor of the Central Bank of Libya.
It will be recalled that in January this year, the HoR elected Mohamed Shukri as the new Governor of a proposed unified CBL. However, Kabir and the High State Council in Tripoli have rejected this appointment. They regarded the appointment as a unilateral action, contrary to the terms of the Skhirat Libyan Political Agreement of December 2015.
Article 15 of the Libyan Political Agreement signed to by both the HoR and High State Council, states that the HoR must consult with the State Council when appointing any top positions, including the Governor of the CBL.
On the other hand, on 11 July head of the Presidency Council and Government of National Accord, Faiez Serraj, called on the UN to establish an international committee to audit the transactions of the Central Bank of Libya branches in Tripoli and in Beida.
His call came after the LNA handed over the eastern oil cresent to the eastern-based National Oil Corporation (NOC), rather than returning them to the Tripoli NOC, based on the pretext that the Tripoli CBL was financing what they called Islamists or terrorists, including Ibrahim Jadran.