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Belgium judge orders international arrest warrant for senior Libya official

Prince Laurent of Belgium pictured during a royal visit to the Hameau du Lac in Mettet, 05 May 2019 [MAXIME ASSELBERGHS/AFP via Getty Images]
Prince Laurent of Belgium pictured during a royal visit to the Hameau du Lac in Mettet, 05 May 2019 [MAXIME ASSELBERGHS/AFP via Getty Images]

A Belgian judge has issued an international arrest warrant for the Chairman of Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), Ali Mahmoud Hassan, AFP reported on Friday.

The LIA is the sovereign wealth fund responsible for managing Libya's assets and foreign investments.

According to AFP, the arrest warrant relates to investigations into the management of Libyan assets frozen in Belgium after the fall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime in 2011.

To avoid possible theft during the uprising against ousted Libyan President Gaddafi, AFP reported, the funds were scattered across several continents before the fall of his regime in 2011.

Such funds are often the subject of legal disputes between the Libyan state and the countries involved.

AFP revealed that the assets in Belgium are in several banks, totalling more than €14 billion. However, some funds disappeared under suspicious circumstances, which are under investigation.

READ: UN rejects Belgian request to seize Libya frozen assets

Belgian media has reported that Brussels-based investigating judge Michel Claise wants to interrogate Hassan over the €2 billion that vanished from Euroclear Bank.

The legal battle over the frozen assets has heightened tensions between the Belgian and Libyan governments, with Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh accusing Belgium in November of "trying once again to seize Libyan funds."

AFP stated that the funds in Belgium are the subject of a dispute involving Belgian Prince Laurent, younger brother of King Philippe, who invested about €50 million in an environmental project in 2008 that never went ahead due to Gaddafi's fall.

Prince Laurent has been seeking compensation from Libya following the liquidation of his charity, the Global Sustainable Development Trust.

In 2015, Prince Laurent filed a complaint of money laundering and breach of trust. Following investigations into the frozen assets, it was discovered that part of the funds disappeared in 2017.

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