29 MAY 2011
By Andrew Willis
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - European banks are among the list of firms to have managed billions of euros worths of assets belonging to the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) in recent years, Libya's sovereign wealth fund closely linked to dictator Colonel Gaddafi.
A report leaked to the campaign group Global Witness this month, and seen by this website, appears to detail the location of $53 billion (€38bn) of Libyan state assets on 30 June 2010.
Several top EU banks are listed as among those happy to profit off Libyan state oil revenues, with French bank Societe Generale holding $1.8 billion of LIA money in three funds.
HSBC held $293 million on deposit across various accounts, with a further $275 million stashed in an HSBC hedge fund, according to the report.
Private equity funds belonging to the Royal Bank of Scotland managed $110 million, while $182 million was held in accounts and funds run by US investment bank Goldman Sachs.
The EU has since imposed sanctions and frozen LIA assets following Libya's popular uprising this year and the wave of violence directed by Gaddafi towards rebels and civilians, but the banks still refuse to confirm they are holding the funds, says Global Witness.
"It is completely absurd that banks like HSBC and Goldman Sachs can hide behind customer confidentiality in a case like this," the group's director, Charmian Gooch, said.
"These are state accounts, so the customer is effectively the Libyan people and these banks are withholding vital information from them."
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