Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Informed Libyan sources have revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat of what they termed as the biggest financial and economic scandal in Libya. The scandal, which was recently uncovered, involved embezzlement by employees of the government-affiliated Economic and Social Development Fund [ESDF] of dozens of millions of Libyan Dinars. The ESDF manages the assets of approximately 30,000 families. These sources pointed out that major security and judicial investigations have begun to verify the complicity of the ESDF employees in illegally and illicitly obtaining funds through exploitation of their positions.
It is to be recalled that the Qurina, the Tripoli-based newspaper affiliated with Saif-al-Islam al-Gaddafi, the second son of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, affirmed in its website that a number of officials of the ESDF, which is supervised by the Libyan government, has been arrested and imprisoned in Al-Judaydah Prison in Tripoli after suspicion of their complicity in embezzlement of public funds and forgery. Qurina noted that experts from the Public Prosecution Office estimated the income of one of the ESDF employees at 10 million dinars (equal to $8 million). It noted that over the past two days the judicial authorities remanded a number of ESDF employees in custody on charges of forging the minutes of the board meetings of approximately 16 companies.
The eruption of this unprecedented scandal in Libya fooled the announcement by the ESDF that one of its Libyan employees voluntarily decided to return the investment portfolio he received to the ESDF. In a statement posted in its website, the ESDF expressed appreciation of what it described as the concern of this Libyan citizen to give another family a chance to benefit from his investment portfolio and return the money he had received from the ESDF.
It is to be recalled that the ESDF was set up by a Libyan government decision in 2006 and was reorganized only last year. The ESDF is legal and financially independent and aims at investing the funds earmarked for beneficiaries from the program on the distribution of wealth to provide them with revenue to improve their standard of living and activate and stimulate socio-economic development in the country. The government set up the ESDF to collect a capital for the estimated one million needy Libyans to improve their living conditions and give them their right to their share of the country’s wealth.
The Libyan Central Bank reported that in the first quarter of this year the commercial banks in Libya saw a tangible growth rate in most financial sectors compared to the same period of the past year. In an official statement, the Libyan Central Bank announced that the overall assets (excluding regular accounts) increased by 19 percent, totaling 58 billion dinar compared to 48.7 billion at the end of first quarter of the past year. The liquid assets of the overall assets constituted 70.5 percent, that is, approximately equal to 40.9 billion dinar, which are mostly deposits in the Libyan Central Bank.