By Sami Zaptia.
London, 25 March 2020:
The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) and its chairman, Dr Ali Mahmoud, have won a landmark legal case before the English Commercial Court in London which confirms his status as the sole validly-appointed chairman of the LIA.
Mr Justice Andrew Baker held that:
“Dr Mahmoud has established his current lawful standing as LIA Chairman” and that “Dr Mahmoud today stands validly appointed as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the LIA, having been so appointed by Resolution 1 on 15 July 2017”, in accordance with Libyan law.
Dr Mahmoud’s opponents had unnecessarily questioned the validity of his appointment, using the LIA’s assets held by the Receivers in London to fund their opposition. The judge was clear that the claims to the Chairmanship of the LIA made by each of Mr Breish, Dr Hussein and Dr Derregia are not viable.
Commenting on Mr Breish’s sustained opposition to the GNA’s appointment of Dr Mahmoud, the judge said that “[t]he reality, in my judgment, is that matters moved on, but Mr Breish did not”.
The judge found Dr Hussein’s claim to the Chairmanship of the LIA to be “impossible” and was similarly “sceptical” about Dr Derregia’s belated and rather opportunistic claim.
This important decision comprehensively rejects the position of Mr Breish, Dr Hussein and Dr Derregia. Their challenge to the LIA’s leadership has caused significant problems for the LIA in dealings with its banks, counterparties and various international bodies. This litigation was not only unnecessary and unjustified, but it has been exploited by the LIA’s opponents and it has greatly increased the LIA’s legal costs.
Indeed, the unjustified claims to the chairmanship have required Receiverships to be established over the LIA’s assets in London. Although Mr Breish, Dr Hussein and Dr Derregia are trying to prolong the Receiverships by launching appeals against previous decisions by Mr Justice Andrew Baker, he was clear that there is “lack of identifiable benefit” of continuing the Receiverships; and that “it is in the LIA’s interests for [the Receivers’ fees] to stop being incurred; and that will only happen if the receiverships are discharged.”
The LIA said today that this conclusive ruling will now enable the LIA to focus all its efforts on protecting and enhancing the assets of the Libyan people. The LIA can now concentrate on its transformation strategy to improve governance through the support of international experts, administrative reform and continued transparency.
A spokesman for the Board of Directors stated:
“This is a very important victory for the LIA. The long legal battle has been unnecessary and detrimental to the LIA. The judgment allows the LIA to focus on delivering its mission to improve the lives of the Libyan people.
“The LIA is delighted that this matter is resolved, but is disappointed that resources of the Libyan people have been unnecessarily wasted by the three individuals who needlessly challenged the authority of Dr Mahmoud and the GNA. Those individuals claimed to be acting in the interests of the LIA but they have succeeded only in causing more money to be incurred in litigation.
“The judgment provides a firm foundation for the LIA to deliver its core objectives and to preserve and protect its assets for the long-term benefit of the Libyan people. The victory of the LIA is a victory for the people of Libya.”