Libya to sue ex-Gaddafi loyalists over missing millions
Libya is planning to sue seven former aides of Muammar Gaddafi in an effort to recover millions of pounds they allegedly stole and took with them to Britain after the late Libyan leader was ousted in 2011.
Mohamed Shaban, who is acting for the Libyan government, criticised Britain for a lack of investigative cooperation and urged it to be more "pro-active".
He said the seven would be sued in a British civil court.
Among them is Brigadier Guima Elmaarfi, who led Gaddafi's army in Tarhouna, 80 kilometres (50 miles) southeast of Tripoli, Shaban said, confirming a report published on Tuesday evening by BuzzFeed.
Elmaarfi is suspected of fleeing Libya with at least £14m after Gaddafi fell in the NATO-backed 2011 revolution, according to Buzzfeed. He has strongly denied the allegations.
The website also reported that Elmaarfi’s son was imprisoned in Britain two years ago for stabbing a teenager with a knife and carving his initial into the abdomen of a man who had been beaten unconscious.
According to BuzzFeed, Elmaarfi lives comfortably in a house in southwest London. However, he has denied profiting from Libya's collapse and insists he is struggling financially after leaving Libya empty-handed. Other officials incriminated in the case have also denied wrongdoing, the site reported.
One of the other former Gaddafi aides identified by Buzzfeed was General Ahmed Mahmoud Azwai – who, according to the website, allegedly laundering millions through properties in southern England via offshore companies.
Buzzfeed identified a third Gaddafi aide but they were unable to name them because of a court injunction stopping them being identified.
The former Gaddafi aides were reported by Buzzfeed to be among “scores” of former Libyan officials who have allegedly brought more than $10bn to Britain from the North African country since 2011.
“We are aware of $10bn of stolen assets in UK banks and the British government is aware of that,” Abdelhamid Eljadi, an investigator appointed by Libya’s transitional government to help with the Gaddafi asset hunt, told Buzzfeed.
“The problem is governments like the UK that tend to be democratic and anti-corruption, they protect these people. They are giving them a safe haven.”
Shaban said the lawsuit would be based on allegations that the seven misappropriated Libyan state funds, laundered the money and misused public office.
He said Libya was not able to file all the necessary legal documentation because of the chaos after the fall of Gaddafi.
"Our position is that the British government should be more pro-active and understand that Libya went through a revolution and is trying to rebuild a state," he said.
"It should decide to support that state and understand that they are not able to complete applications like the United States or France would for example."
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