Belgium issues arrest warrant for Libyan investment chief over frozen assets

Belgium issues arrest warrant for Libyan investment chief over frozen assets
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A judge in Belgium has issued an arrest warrant for Ali Mahmoud Hassan, chairman of the Libyan Investment Authority, as part of investigation of frozen Libyan assets in the western European country. The funds were frozen in 2011 after Gaddafi's fall.
A Belgian court has issued an arrest warrant for Ali Mahmoud Hassan, chairman of the Libyan Investment Authority, for frozen assets from 2011. [Getty Images]

A Belgian judge has issued an international arrest warrant for a senior Libyan official as part of an investigation into the management of Libyan assets frozen in Belgium after the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011.

The Brussels prosecutor's office confirmed the warrant to AFP on Friday, after it was issued this month, according to media reports.

The official targeted is Ali Mahmoud Hassan, chairman of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), the sovereign wealth fund responsible for managing Libya's assets and foreign investments.

Those funds were frozen in 2011 by the UN to avoid possible theft during an uprising against longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The funds, scattered over several continents before the fall of his regime, are often the subject of legal disputes between the Libyan state and the countries involved.

The assets in Belgium are placed in several banks, totalling more than 14 billion euros, though some funds disappeared under suspicious conditions that are under investigation.

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According to the Belgian media, Brussels investigating judge Michel Claise wants to interrogate Hassan about two billion euros that vanished from Euroclear bank.

The legal saga over the frozen assets has heightened tensions between the Belgian and Libyan governments, with Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah accusing Belgium in November of "trying once again to seize Libyan funds".

The funds in Belgium are the subject of a dispute that also involves Belgian Prince Laurent, brother of King Philippe.

The prince has been seeking compensation from Libya after his charity, the Global Sustainable Development Trust, invested tens of millions of euros in a reforestation project that never went ahead due to Gaddafi's fall.