Malta, legal battle over 94 million euros owned by Mutassim Gaddafi
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The widow of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is contesting the release of 94 million euros from Bank of Valletta to the Libyan state. Safiya Ferkash Mohammed filed an appeal against a decision taken by a Maltese court to release the funds in favour of the Libyan state. The appeal was filed by Maltese lawyer Louis Cassar Pullicino on behalf of the Gaddafi heirs’ lawyer, Charilos Oikonomopoulos and Gaddafìs widow, Safiya Ferkash Mohammed. They are stating that the Maltese courts do not have the jurisdiction and could not decide the case over the funds. The legal dispute started in 2012, a year after the death of former Libyan dictator when it was determined that Mutassim, Gaddafìs fourth son was the owner of Capital Resources Limited, a Maltese registered company with a Bank of Valletta accounts. When in October 2011, Mutassim was captured during the battle of Sirte by anti-Gaddafi forces, and killed along with his father, various credit cards issued by Bank of Valleta were found in his possession. Following various investigations, it was found that Mutassim had failed to declare his full assets as required by the Libyan law, and as an army officer he was barred from taking benefits from business interests. Also, Bank of Valletta was accused by the Libyan state that it failed to carry out the necessary due diligence that should prevented Mutassim from opening a financial account and the Libyan government always argued that the funds under Mutassim’s company were gained illegaly. However, a Maltese court decided in favour of the Libyan state – declaring that nearly 97 million euros held in Bank of Valletta accounts linked to the late son of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi should be passed on to the Libyan state, dismissing the claims of his heirs. In June 2010, Mutassim Gaddafi had opened five accounts with Bank of Valletta, and these accounts were frozen in the wake of the revolution against his father’s regime. Three accounts denominated in euros have a total balance of just over 56,5 million; a Us dollar account with an active balance of 36,8 mln and a Uk pound sterling account with a balance of 3,5 mln. He had also opened a business loan account on August 2010, but this account remained unused and was closed on 28 February 2011, as the Libyan revolution broke out. The other two held a little over 200.000 euros – were opened in the name of Capital Resources Ltd, a company registered on the same day the accounts were opened and ostensibly wholly-owned by Muatasimbllah Muammar Abuminyar – an alias for Mutassim. The Maltese court declared that the millions Mutassim held at Bank of Valletta could in no way be reconciled with his declared annual salary, which amounted to 64,800 Libyan dinars, or 37.500 euros, in 2011. The judge also observed that there was no evidence that Gaddafi had any business interests which would suggest that his wealth was legitimately obtained. The Libyan goverment has been putting pressure on the Maltese government and asked the Maltese authorities to assist in recovering the frozen funds linked to the Gaddafi families, and the issue was always on the agenda during bilateral meetings.