Gaddafi lawyer insists Muatassim’s millions at Bank of Valletta account are not Libya’s

The Gaddafis are fighting a claim from the Libyan Attorney General to release a reported €90 million held in Bank of Valletta in the name of Muatassim Gaddafi, one of Gaddafi’s sons

Muatassim Gaddafi is believed to have held some €90 million in three companies with BOV accounts
Muatassim Gaddafi is believed to have held some €90 million in three companies with BOV accounts

The Maltese courts were the site of a confrontation between the lawyer of the family of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and the Libyan state entity seeking the release of millions in cash held inside Bank of Valletta.

The Gaddafis are fighting a claim from the Libyan Attorney General to release a reported €90 million held in Bank of Valletta in the name of Muatassim Gaddafi, one of Gaddafi’s sons, which were managed by the accountant Joe Sammut, a former Labour Party treasurer.

Charilaos Oikonomopoulos, the Gaddafis’ lawyer, put up a defence of “infamously cruel” playboy Muatassim Gaddafi, insisting that his Malta cash were his private funds and not government monies.

“You’ve been trying to prove that the provenance of his funds was illicit… there has not been a single clue of a single time of any amount coming from any official or related Libyan business,” the Greek lawyer told the Libyan AG’s lawyer in Malta. “These funds were private funds, having nothing to do with the Libyan state.”

Oikonomopoulos is assisted by lawyer Louis Cassar Pullicino. Lawyer Simon Micallef Stafrace was nominated by the courts to act as deputy curator on behalf of the unknown heirs of Mutassin Ghaddafi.

Oikonomopoulos is tasked by Gaddafi’s widow Safia Ferkash to prevent the Libyan state from obtaining the release of the funds, held by a Maltese company called Capital Resources and Mezen International.

But he gave the Libyan AG’s lawyer in Malta, Shaheryar Ghaznavi, little information about what the money Gaddafi had, was being used for.

“I’m sorry. I think you have to make a trip to Paradise to ask the account holder,” Oikonomopoulos retorted. “I cannot [ask] God [what] this money was for. I can tell you [where] this money was coming from… business he was doing with international businessmen…

Muatassim Gaddafi's Maltese handler was Joe Sammut, who is currently charged with creating false companies to facilitate visas for Libyan residents in Malta
Muatassim Gaddafi's Maltese handler was Joe Sammut, who is currently charged with creating false companies to facilitate visas for Libyan residents in Malta

“He had no position in the government… the money in the accounts were coming, I’m assured and I’m convinced, from private business,” Oikonomopoulos said of Muatassim Gaddafi, who died at the Battle of Sirte after being captured by anti-Gaddafi forces on 20 October, 2011. He was later executed along with his father. He was 36.

In recent court sittings, Ghaznavi questioned Bank of Valletta employees about the level of due diligence carried out for one of the companies opened by Gaddafi’s representatives.

According to a BOV employee, Gaddafi’s representative Saleh Drah was introduced to the bank by Joe Sammut, for a meeting with then CEO Charles Borg. According to the employee, Ray Aquilina, due diligence on the company Capital Resources was based on the bank’s prior knowledge of Gaddafi’s activity from another company account he held at the bank.

The United Nations panel of experts in Libya has been analysing the bank accounts of Capital Resources and Mezen International. Capital Resources had at least €55 million transferred to it from Mezen. But the main source of funding for Mezen was a third company, Moncada International, which in 2010 transferred over €40 million to Mezen.

Libya’s claims are being opposed by Safia Farkash Gaddafi, the 66-year-old widow now living in Oman with sons Hannibal and Mohammad, and daughter Aisha.

Gaddafi’s name at Bank of Valletta and in the Maltese registrar of companies was never made obvious, since it was represented as “Muatasimbllah Muammar Abuminyar”.

The movements of cash were sporadic both before and after the revolution in February 2011. Two weeks after the 17 February revolution, two payments were made of €73,832 and €60,000 under the description ‘Settlement LISA’ and ‘Settlement ALAG’.

In the proceedings, Oikonomopoulos also claimed that Muatassim Gaddafi had another heir: his hitherto unknown wife Lisa van Goinga, a Dutch glamour model, and her son.

But Oikonomopoulos has so far presented no proof of marriage or paternity in court. Under Islamic law, van Goinga would be entitled to one-eighth of her alleged husband’s wealth; her son would inherit the lion’s share.

Additionally, Muatassim Gaddafi had various Visa platinum accounts, holding €122,770, €84,587, a €22,403 Bank of Valletta gold Visa, and another BOV platinum holding €61,118.

The accounts were used to settle bills at luxury locations, such as the five-star Four Seasons hotel on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour; €4,890 spent in one night at the legendary Parisian luxury nightclub L’Arc Paris; €4,500 spent at the Rival Deluxe restaurant on Champs Elysée, and a stay at the Hotel Le Bristol, where rooms go for over €900 a night.

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