Libya has requested the Maltese government’s help to recover more than €80 million in frozen bank deposits linked to the family of deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
On Monday, Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo met his Libyan counterpart, Najla El-Mangoush for confidential talks in Valletta.
Sources said that a variety of topics, including migration and the reopening of Malta-Libya businesses and air travel, were raised but talks also turned to the late dictator’s ties with the island.
Gaddafi ruled Libya for more than 40 years before he was deposed and killed in a bloody uprising in 2011.
Times of Malta was told that, during the lengthy meeting, El-Mangoush expressed Libya’s determination to secure hundreds of millions of euros that are believed to have been syphoned off by the former dictator’s relatives and supporters and squirrelled away in various countries, including Malta.
El-Mangoush is understood to have asked the Maltese government to intervene and have Bank of Valletta release Gaddafi-linked millions as a sign of goodwill after nearly a decade of trying to recover them.
Sources in the Foreign Affairs Ministry told Times of Malta that Bartolo told his Libyan counterpart that while the Maltese government would assist Libya in sharing information on the matter, it would not take any steps until an ongoing court battle over the funds is concluded.
The issue dates back to 2012 when, following the overthrow of Gaddafi’s regime, the Libyan state started trying to recover huge sums held by individuals closely associated with the former ruler.
At the time, the Libyan attorney general had set his sights on a treasure of cash once held by one of Gaddafi’s children, Mutassim.
An official in the Libyan army up to 2011, Mutassim had also occupied the post of consultant on national security to his late father’s administration and was one of his closest collaborators.
When Mutassim was shot and killed in the height of the civil uprising against his father, he was found carrying a number of credit cards issued by BOV.
According to Libyan law at the time, as an army officer he had been precluded from engaging in private business ventures.
Using international treaties, the Libyan government eventually traced millions of euros that were held by Mutassim in Malta behind the veil of a Maltese-registered corporate structure, Capital Resources Ltd.
The post-revolution Libyan state looked upon these funds as illicit gains and instituted court proceedings in Malta to recover them.
Bank of Valletta representatives have since detailed how the Gaddafi-owned company, which has since ceased operations, held five accounts, with deposits in excess of €80 million.
After a year of inactivity due to COVID, the case resumed in the Valletta courts in February with the Gaddafi family’s lawyers arguing that the funds were not the property of the Libyan state.
Meanwhile, a United Nations panel of experts on Libya has been tasked with analysing the bank accounts held by Capital Resources and another company linked to Mutassim Gaddafi, Mezen International Ltd.
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