Tobruk-Tripoli feud over LIA, Libya Post continues in courts

Courts hearing submissions over control of Libyan-held interests in Malta by rival government aides and delegates

The feud for the control of Libyan assets held in Malta continues after members of the ‘Tobruk LIA’ – representatives of the internationally-recognised Libyan government – replied to a petition from Tripoli to refuse recognition to the directors of the Libya Africa Investment Portfolio (LAIP).

The LAIP is owned by the Libya Investment Authority, and under it fall several companies with Maltese assets, such as the Libyan-Arab Foreign Investment Company (LAFICO): jointly owned with the Maltese government, it has some €46.5 million in capital in the Vivaldi and Milano Due hotels, and industrial manufacturing firms in Malta.

Weeks ago, Maghreb Confidential revealed that the Maltese courts were petitioned by Tripoli’s national salvation government, or Libya Dawn, to recognise their representative, Mohsen Ali Derregia, as a legitimate delegate of the LAIP and to terminate any recognition of Ahmed Kashadah as representative in Malta. 

Derregia was himself the former chairman of the LAIP under ousted prime minister Ali Zeidan, before power passed on to current prime minister Abdullah Al Thani.

In a reply to the court petition, LAIP board member Salah Ibrahim Awad confirmed that Kashadah is a board director.

In Malta, the LAIP is being run by chairman Ali Hebri, and executive director Ahmed Kashadah. Like many other Libyan entrepreneurs and government officials, a lot of Libyan business is being carried out from offices and apartments on the island. Since the LAIP’s offices in Tripoli were overrun by armed men in December, 2014, Kashadah took all of the funds’ records to Malta.

Also in the Maltese courts, Tripoli representatives are also contesting the Maltese incarnation of state-owned Libyan Post, Telecommunication and Information Technology Holding (LPTIC Services) set up by Faysel Gergab.

Tripoli man Majdi Ashibani insists he is the rightful boss of Libyan Post, and launched legal proceedings against Gergab and LPTIC Services before the Civil Court in Malta.

Back in 2012, under Gergab the LPTIC took a 14.7% stake in Italian telecoms firm Retelit, via the Bousval holding company, based in Luxembourg. Retelit is one of the leading Italian providers of data services and infrastructure for the telecoms market, and has been listed since 2000 on the Milan Stock Exchange.

Tripoli’s case in Malta is aimed at winning back control of Bousval, which Gergab claims hold on through his Maltese company LPTIC Services.

But Ashibani has told the Maltese courts that Tripoli telecommunications minister Sami Elfantazi appointed him boss of LPTIC in 2012, and fired Gergab.

LPTIC Services controls Libya’s telecoms operators LTT, Libyana, and Al Madar – at least on paper. The company set up its offices at Oilinvest House on Triq il-Falkun, in San Gwann, where the Tamoil Africa Holdings and Chempetrol operations are already housed. They are both subsidiaries of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) on whose board Gergab sits.

Libya remains in a state of political turmoil with two separate governments vying for control of territory and state assets.

Conflicting alliances add to the confusion. In Italy, a Bank of Valletta shareholder, UniCredit – which is Italy’s biggest bank by assets – recently restored ties with the Tripoli LIA’s chairman Abdulrahman Benyezza. The Central Bank of Libya owns a 2.9% stake and the LIA has a 1.25% stake in UniCredit.