Libya’s ‘Comfortable’ Finances Eases Push for Frozen Assets

Libya will wait until a new government is in place before pushing for the release of more Libyan assets frozen abroad, an official with the country’s stabilization group said.

“We are in a comfortable financial situation for the next nine months, so we decided it’s best to wait” until Libya regains political stability, Wafik Shater, head of financial affairs for the group, said in an interview in Dubai.

So far, about $1.5 billion of the $170 billion held abroad by the Libyan central bank and the Libyan Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign-wealth fund, has been unfrozen to help the National Transitional Council pay for fuel, salaries and civilian needs.

About $34 billion of Libyan assets were frozen by the U.S., which has released more than $700 million. France has said it will unfreeze 1.5 billion euros ($2.1 billion), and the United Nations Security Council on Aug. 30 approved Britain’s request to release $1.6 billion of Libyan assets held in U.K. banks.

In addition to the $170 billion in assets abroad, $20 billion has remained in Libya’s domestic banking system, Shater said last month. The government found billions of dollars of local currency abandoned by Qaddafi’s regime in the central bank. The cash will help meet the country’s needs for months, Shater said.

(Source: Bloomberg)

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