A 5 January 2015 note from the Authors: It seems the world was watching. Libyan demands for responsible journalism from its media have been addressed. Three weeks after this article – 8 July, a UNESCO declaration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain was signed in Madrid on the 30 July 2015. A significant step, the Madrid Declaration outlined for the senior managers and owners their moral obligation as they recognize the “historical and important role of the Libyan media in reconciliation and shaping the political landscape by outlining “a comprehensive set of principles to which the signatories agree to abide. It recognizes the key role played by the media in society, especially at this difficult time, and affirms their commitment to promote freedom of expression, responsible journalism and the absolute rejection of all forms of hate speech and incitement to violence.” These are the links for the exemplary Madrid Declaration: HERE, HERE & HERE. PDFs: UNESCO Madrid Declaration ARABIC & UNESCO Declaration Madrid ENGLISH
Four weeks after our next article on Libyan journalism – 30 September 20115 Aref Ali Nayed: UNSMIL, UNDEF and The Future of Libyan Journalism with our request to reconvene the UNESCO declaration, on 26 October 2015, The Madrid Declaration “round-table discussion” was reconvened with an additional 20 journalists and managers in attendance who signed.
We take this opportunity to thank UNESCO and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain for the exemplary Madrid Declaration.
The rest of our 8 July 2015 article…
When Libyan Journalism Yields to its Politics Corruption is Not Invited to the Round Table Discussion
Nevertheless, seated at that table is George Clooney and fashion designer Tom Ford as detailed by The Hollywood Reporter. A 26th March 2015 news post in Libya Al-Mostakbal (LM), one of Libya’s premiere political forums caught our eye as its focus was a forthcoming George Clooney movie. George Clooney & Libya? We pondered the connection, the LM editorial mindset and the LM staff’s translation toil in placing the Clooney article. If George Clooney, Tom Ford and The Hollywood Reporter can nestle in at the Al Mostakbal news table, we questioned why has the LM editorial staff REFUSED TO REPRINT the gravely serious and significantly more relevant – let alone truly Libyan subject of its asset recovery scandal?
We reiterate, REFUSED TO REPRINT. In the last four months, concurrent to the Clooney article, we contacted Libya Al-Mostakbal and in particular, Editor Hassan Al-Amin several times through various social media with our overview to a series of intellectual articles … Libya specific. A world renowned Canadian philosopher, Professor Emeritus and a human rights advocate of 40 years provided his scholarly insight into the TEAMS HIRED for the recovery of up to USD$ 2 Trillion of Libyan Assets looted by the Gaddafi Regime. Yet, all our overtures to Mr. Al-Amin were to no avail. Our contact is 3 direct & 5 public March tweets: HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE & HERE
In his March 2015 series of articles, Dr. Howard Adelman provided 3 scathing critiques on the asset recovery teams hired by these post-revolution Libyan parliaments and administrations; GNC, HoR and Zeidan, Thinni and Al Hassi. This is our article: Excerpts from Dr. Howard Adelman’s critiques on the Libyan Assets Recovery Scandal and links to Dr. Adelman’s three articles for which we thank him for his insight, time and effort: HERE, HERE & HERE. This is our compilation of his stinging excerpts in our collection of articles:
“…an overnight creation for this purpose”, “…is no record I could find in his career”, “…simply exist as a corporation for his personal business activities”, “…this is a very thin resumé”, “…demonstrates not one iota in any of the fields of expertise required for asset recovery”,”… inexperience in asset recovery, even his petroleum consulting may be questionable”, “…Douglas Foree may be an even bigger flake than Erik Goaied”, “…neither of the two founding directors has any of the requisite expertise in asset recovery”, “…lobbying firm Ben Barnes Group headed by Ben Barnes, the former Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives and chief fundraiser for John Kerry”, “…had a practice of posting repeated supports for Gaddafi”, “…adamantly opposed to any form of Islamic government”, “…purchase of South African weaponry with the Libyan funds”, “…a frequent cover for an arms dealer”, “…whatever SS is, it does not advertise itself as having expertise in asset recovery”, “…$3-billion joint venture between Libya and South Africa”, “…$270-million signed arms deal between the Libyan Ministry of Defense and SS”, “…Of all the rogues involved in the recovery of Libyan assets, Menashe is by far the most interesting”, “…another notorious character”, “…a former member of Mossad.” AND “Other than such a description, SS offers no record of any of the above activities and no contact persons other than the general manager Taha Buishi. The company is, however, listed under recycle.africa.net as a scrap metal dealer, a frequent cover for an arms dealer. Whatever SS (SAM SERJ) is, it does not advertise itself as having expertise in asset recovery.”
‘Whatever SS (SAM SERJ) is, it does not advertise itself as having expertise in asset recovery’ noted Dr. Adelman. The subject of Sam Serj’s qualifications in the field of asset recovery becomes even more applicable today because of (1) On the 15th of April, Tobruk disavowed one asset recovery team without naming another, (2) Sam Serj’s prior assets recovery agreements with a Libyan Government, (3) Sam Serj’s declared current ties to Tobruk and (4) a new leaked 22nd of April document purportedly signed by the current Tobruk Government designating Sam Serj on a bank account for Libyan Assets. Yet unverified and without provenance, our extensive research on the politics around and content within – in the context of the ongoing saga of Libya’s Asset Recovery Scandal – indicates that this document leans toward creditable thus MUST be CONSIDERED and EXAMINED.
With reference to the document, our analysis is educated conjecture based on 9 solid research facts listed below. Our research is so solid and the issue is so important to the Libyan citizenry – this is why we considered a document without provenance. Yet, we proceed cautiously while our research allows us the right to speculate in the – what ifs. What if this document is real…
Undermining the Libyan Central Bank
Yet unverified, this what-if–document dated 22 April 2015 purportedly indicates that the Tobruk-based Libyan Minister of Justice directly contacted the Jordanian Central Bank. The significance are two points that would go hand in hand: (1) the Minister of Justice would be performing a duty of the Central Bank Governor and (2) as such, his action would allow Tobruk to bypass the Libyan Central Bank in Tripoli all together. Thereby allowing Tobruk to undermine the Libyan Central Bank – actions which are in-line with Tobruk’s current stated political policies. HERE, HERE, HERE & HERE
One more time, who it that signatory?
Furthermore, this what-if–document purportedly shows that the Minister of Justice provided two names as signatories…one of which was himself! In what-if other words, the Libyan Minister of Justice placed himself as a signatory on a bank account with Billions of Libyan Dollars! Do you see a problem? We did. He purportedly gave instructions to open a Libyan account in the names of The National Board for the Following-up and Recovery of the Libyan Looted and Disguised Funds AND Sam Serj, Ltd.
Sam Serj, Ltd.
About Sam Serj, Dr. Adelman noted it is a registered ‘scrap metal dealer’ AND ‘does not advertise itself as having expertise in asset recovery.’ Therefore, we must ask, WHY would a registered ‘scrap metal dealer’ without ‘expertise in assets recovery’ – in the PAST or NOW – ever have an assets recovery consultancy agreement with the Libyan Government? IS THE ANSWER CORRUPTION?
About Sam Serj, the Libya people may never get a fully informed answer, nor will a fully informed debate result due to Mr. Al-Amin intransigence to reprint Dr. Adelman’s or other’s articles discussing Sam Serj or the asset recovery teams.
Case in point: considering the other, recently disavowed asset recovery team – WACG & Erik Goaied – we alerted LM in a tweet:
Alas, Libya Al-Mostakbal chose to bypass this article as well.
Our tweet refers to the 25 May The Daily Beast article by Shane Harris. It details the official action by Libyan Embassy to the US Government to disavow one of the asset recover teams – Team Erik Goaied & WACG. (Our previous WACG articles: HERE, HERE, HERE). Not only did the Embassy disavow the WACG team, but ALSO the Libyan agency who signed with WACG – The National Board. The Tobruk-linked Embassy’s 15 April repudiation of WACG was first documented on Page 146 in a 23 February 2015 United Nations Security Council report. Our PDF: UN SC Report on Libya 23 February 2015 N1502120. Excerpts from Mr. Harris’ The Daily Beast article:
“The National Board by its very title would seem to be a valid government group,” Baker Garrari told me, “but this is not correct.” AND
“Garrari said that the National Board “is not a Libyan government agency, and has no authority to make any commitments whatsoever on behalf of [the] Libyan government. The minister of justice of Libya has found the actions of the National Board of Erik Goaied to be fraudulent.”
When Fact and Speculation seem to go Hand-in-Glove
‘The minister of justice…has found the actions of the National Board of Erik Goaied to be fraudulent.’ Consider two points about the Embassy spokesman’s quote:
- Is this Minister of Justice – the same MoJ in the what-if-document?
- Notice the quote says, ‘…The National Board of Erik Goaied.’ Of Erik Goaied implies possession of Erik Goaied. Is The National Board a creation of Erik Goaied?
Then consider another quote by the Embassy’s spokesman, ‘The Embassy conveyed the message in a diplomatic note to the Justice department on April 15.‘
FOR ARGUMENT’S SAKE, consider these quotes and the what-if-it-is-real-document: On April 15 in a diplomatic note to US DOJ is the Justice Minister’s declaration that ‘the actions of The National Board of Erik Goaied fraudulent’ – then on the April 22 what-if-document designated the fraudulent National Board on a Jordanian bank account. If on a bank account – is The National Board actually fraudulent? Is Erik Goaied still in the game – via The National Board of Erik Goaied.
TOBRUK & US HESITATION – The FACT is that despite all the academic/journalistic due diligence, it took Tobruk 5 months to disavow WACG to the US Government – 15 April. Erik Goaied and WACG filed for FARA #6261 on 10 November 2014. Further, it was another 2 month before the US Government reacted. It was unusual – noted as ‘extraordinary’ by Shane Harris in a follow-up article about FARA Registration Unit’s action of removing WACG’s documents with respect to Libya entirely off the site.
What-if conjecture is now over. Full analysis & translation of this new, unverified document is below.
‘Fraudulent’, ‘The National Board of Erik Goaied, ‘Not a Valid Group’ & Extraordinary’
With all this documented intrigue surrounding WACG and Sam Serj since 2013, we will document as of publishing NEITHER asset team is found tagged on LM.
Considering the significance of the story, we have to ask why? As such Libya Al-Mostakbal editor Hassan Al-Amin’s actions are the basis of this article … Editorial Responsibility.
This op/ed discussion will be broken into three sections. We will discuss Libya Al-Mostakbal’s editorial decision in relationship to the escalation of Libyan dissatisfaction with corruption issues discussed by Libyan media. Although NOT All, other Libyan media outlets have been singled out for criticism, but we restrict our comments to Libya Al-Mostakbal and its Editor, Mr. Al-Amin. Strictly speaking, this is where we can contribute to the debate. Not know for in-depth reporting, LM presents a thin report of Libyan news, while providing an important forum for Libyans to present commentary on daily issues.
Secondly, we will do a related discussion of the traditional role of journalism, editors and the journalists’ watchdog relationship with the government in a democratic system. The watchdog is when the press is the eyes and ears of the citizenry as it reports on governmental activities – all to prevent corruption. We refer to a Swiss study showing the DIRECT relationship between the level of corruption and the lack of an independent press. The study shows the GREATER the press freedom equates to LOWER governmental corruption. Finally, we discuss the future of Libyan press, from the perspective of two UN organizations. We will discuss two separate United Nations organizations which have funded or endorsed diverging plans that if implemented, may in fact curtail press freedom in Libya.
Note: we asked if Hassan Al-Amin or LM contacted Dr. Adelman in the last three months. (We provided his contact details.) Neither did – but Dr. Adelman said that he will allow Libya Al-Mostakbal to reprint.
An Editor’s Moral Obligation, Social Contract and the ‘Marketplace of Ideas’
With such pertinent, scathing comments in Dr. Adelman’s articles about the asset recovery ‘rogues’ from a scholar with impeccable credentials, we figuratively took pen to paper to express to Libya Al-Mostakbal why it is OBLIGATED to reprint. An excerpt from our March and April correspondence:
“We forward this letter again and again in the hopes that you will reprint these three scholarly, critical examinations of the Libyan Assets Recovery teams which will become an essential issue within the new unity government. The Libyan people need to know about the individuals THEIR political representatives have hired to handle THEIR inheritance.”
Journalism 101 tells us that the editor, unlike other vocations, is morally obligated to deliver a compelling story to the marketplace of ideas where his/her readers may debate the articles and may accept or reject the contentions. Attributed to John Stuart Mills in his work On Liberty, the ‘marketplace of ideas’ is a rationale for freedom of expression based on an analogy to the economic concept of a free market.’
The “marketplace of ideas” belief holds that the truth will emerge from the competition of ideas in free, transparent public discourse.’
…that the truth will emerge from the competition of ideas in free, transparent public discourse. To stop a critical discussion by blocking evidence from dissemination to the affected populace, we argue it is a violation of Mr. Al-Amin’s social contract with his readers, the Libyan People. We add especially when the discussion is about the societal debilitating subject of governmental corruption AND especially in Libya after 42 years of excessive corruption, stagnation and waste.
Libya Al Mostakbal: Erik Goaied & Sam Serj coverage
Although LM has several pages of discussions of the issue of Libyan Assets, the words “Sam Serj, Ltd” or “Erik Iskander Goaied” and its generally accepted original Arabic name ايرك اسكندر جويّد OR اريك جويّد OR ايرك جويّد OR ايرك جويّد register NO RESULTS لا توجد نتائج on the LM SEARCH. In other words, we must conclude that “Erik Goaied” or “Sam Serj, Ltd” by name, in either language, is NOT on the site or at least not tagged as the above for future reference.
Curious though, as so much due diligence controversy surrounds Erik Goaied. Especially since Erik Goaied – up until 23 February in the United Nations Security Council Report (Page 146) and mid-April in Washington when his documents were declared fraudulent – WAS as the world believed – Libya’s head via The National Board’s contract of its assets recovery team. As well as in 2013 according to the South African Press: Mr. Goaied ‘claims to have a mandate from the former president of Libya’s General National Congress, Mohammed al-Magariaf (who resigned two weeks ago) and Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.’ Even more controversy – in May, Mr. Goaied said WACG still claims ties with Prime Minister Thinni’s office. Yet, with all this controversy surrounding Erik Goaied, NONE of these stories are tagged to Erik Goaied are on the LM site. Our PDF: UN SC Report on Libya 23 February 2015 N1502120
No Erik Goaied or Sam Serj, Ltd…but four pages of George Clooney
We can say that the teams signed or claimed to have signed with successive Libyan Governments/ Parliaments and are responsible for up to US$2 Trillion of the Libyan Assets, Sam Serj and Erik Goaied is NOT tagged as mentioned above in either language on the Libya Mostakbal site. Therefore, they are not searchable. However, in contrast George Clooney in his Arabic translation جورج كلوني has been tagged so much on Libya Al-Mostakbal that he has four full pages in the LM search. That is tagged 33 times! (when we started this article, it was 29)
Exactly, what does that say about Libya Al-Mostakbal and Editor Hassan Al-Amin?
Our PDFs of LM searches: ايرك جويّدLibya Al-Mostakbal search, ايرك اسكندر جويّد Libya Al-Mostakbal search, اريك جويّد part 1 Libya Al-Mostakbal search, ايرك جويّد part 2 Libya Al-Mostakbal search, Shane Harris Libya Al-Mostakbal search, The Daily Beast Libya Al-Mostakbal search, Erik Goaied Libya Al-Mostakbal search, Sam Serj, Ltd Libya Al-Mostakbal search, – wاريك جويّد Libya Al-Mostakbal search, and 33 search and 4 pages of George Clooney جورج كلوني Libya Al-Mostakbal search
International, NOT Libya Al-Mostakbal coverage of the Assets Recovery Teams
Although LM has refused to cover the Libyan Assets issue, it HAS BEEN covered extensively elsewhere… albeit by international journalists. As evidence, we point to an incomplete collection of their articles: HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE. HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, & HERE.
And that is the point, covered internationally but NOT as one would expect within the established Libyan media, such as Libya Al-Mostakbal.
Libyans voice a Complaint: Lack of Reporting on Corruption
Mr. Al-Amin’s editorial decision with Dr. Adelman’s and the other asset recovery articles is indicative of a change, an adjustment within Libyan forums for political discussion. We are just the next-in-line to identify that change. The recent change is reflected in the lack of aggressive Libyan reporting on corruption in the succession of post-revolution governments and parliaments. As such, a growing wave of Libyans have recently taken to the social media to note a surge in placating, NON-Libyan, superfluous fluff replacing the REAL substantive issue of CURRENT governmental corruption. George Clooney’s 33 searches would be indicative of this trend. Considering the context that Libya is burning – a cynical person could view the Clooney article as an attempt to mollify, to pacify, and to distract the Libyan people from the real issues that affect their lives such as corruption. Wasn’t unchecked, unreported, rampant corruption within the Gaddafi regime an impetus for the 2011 revolution? That would be the revolution that brought these same Libyan governments and their politicians into power.
Taking up the slack: Libya Social Media
As a result of the deliberate refusal by some Libyan Media to present ALL legitimate articles especially corruption-related issues, Libyan social media is taking up the slack in an attempt to satisfy the demand for information among the Libyan people. The result is a less than ideal situation.
An example of the current information/media debacle in Libya was given by Jon Lee Anderson. His Letter from Libya February 23, 2015 Issue The New Yorker article aptly titled The Unraveling, Mr. Anderson described the Libyan situation where “Indisputable information is difficult to come by in Libya” and “in the absence of news, outrageous gossip is quickly accepted as fact.”
Indisputable information is difficult to come by in Libya. Everyone feverishly monitors Web sites where pictures are posted and things proclaimed and discussed, but most of what passes for news is political propaganda, pure and simple. Dignity has a TV station, which broadcasts footage of Haftar on inspection tours of the Benghazi battlefield, set to martial music, along with gruesome clips showing the victims of the other side’s violence. Libya Dawn has a similar channel, presenting the opposite view of the conflict. Each side discounts the other’s reporting, and, in the absence of news, outrageous gossip is quickly accepted as fact.
‘…And in the absence of news, outrageous gossip is quickly accepted as fact.’ In that the absence of proper, unbiased news organizations, the Libyan people are left to resort to a one-sided social media or TV channels where ‘…most of what passes for news is political propaganda.’ This is the direct result of certain Libyan media unresponsiveness to the demands of their readers.
A Vicious Cycle. With respect to corruption, certain Libyan press are even less forthcoming. It is a vicious cycle. A deliberate Libyan editorial choice not to cover corruption – clashes with the people rightful demand to know. The result is that the social media attempts to take up the slack. However, due to the social media’s lack of proper reporting, such as verification checks in many cases, ‘outrageous gossip is quickly accepted as fact.’ And outrageous gossip only adds fuel to the people’s discontent and therefore increases their demand to know.
The Libyan public is demanding – but not ALL of Libyan press is providing – so Libyans are expressing a range of concerns including corruption in the international media or academic think tanks.
Libyans are finding their Voice in the International Media
Case in point: The Atlantic Council published on the 16th April 2015 an article by Asma Yousef Magariaf, a Washington, DC-based Libyan American communications consultant entitled, Washington Should Demand Accountability from Libya’s Beleaguered Parliament. This strong article touches on the issue of corruption of the internationally recognized Tobruk Government & the House of Representatives (HoR):
With seven months left in its mandate, Libya’s House of Representatives (House) in Tobruk has sent a high-level delegation to Washington this week. Critics of the House continue to demand greater accountability from Libya’s parliament amid mounting concerns of incompetence and corruption as Libya faces a growing threat from the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) and inches closer to an all-out civil war. Washington should emphasize to Libyan parliamentarians the need for more transparency and responsiveness to their electorate. US officials must urge them to engage with adversaries to negotiate a political solution to Libya’s extremism challenges.
The new legislative body took a step backward from its predecessor with respect to transparency by disallowing televised coverage of its sessions. It made no effort to disclose voting records of members, many of whom reportedly continue to be outside of the country while House votes on legislation. In a recent interview, Prime Minister Abdullah Thinni, a close ally of House, admitted that House members pressured him to appoint ministers to his cabinet based solely on tribal loyalties. According to Thinni, sixty House members signed a letter demanding the appointment of a business mogul—who paid for the costs of transferring House sessions—to Tobruk to a highly sought-after governmental post..
As Ms. Magarif noted “Critics of the House continue to demand greater accountability from Libya’s parliament amid mounting concerns of incompetence and corruption.” We agree with Ms. Magariaf that “Incompetence and Corruption” do go hand-in-hand and will pursue this line of thinking to consider a few examples of both Libyan Governments’ malfeasance.
“Incompetence and Corruption”
As this article’s focus is of some of the Libyan Media’s unresponsiveness the Libyan citizenry’s demand for ALL governmental malfeasance-related issues, we highlight two recent examples under the criteria of incompetence and corruption.
ONE: The Libyan students in North America left in a lurch.
On 10 April 2015 Al-Awasat translation reported that:
“The Canadian Bureau for International Education announced which is responsible for monitoring Libyan students in North America, announced that it has stopped to covering students tuition fees starting from the summer semester of this year.” “This comes after the decision to stop the monthly grant cuts and stop medical insurance for more than 1,500 students with their families in the United States, a number of them were forced to resort to collecting donations and subsidies provided by American Christian churches and charities in order to pay the expenses and costs owed to them.”
Libyan Students left without funding is nothing new. Paralleling this student financial scandal is another in 2014. Two decrees with the same number were approved but only one was signed by the Minister of Higher Education in Tripoli. Part Two of Decree #56 of 2014 covers international students, whose scholarship application was for the academic year of 2013/2014. The names have been approved and are just waiting a signature from the Minister of Higher Education. We understand these students are still waiting.
Is this incompetence by the Tripoli government officials? The image demonstrates the Canadian organization’s documented efforts to secure the scholarship money AND the Libyan officials’ documented actions or lack thereof.
Irony or just Poor Timing? As Libyan students are scrambling for aid from American charities, ironically coinciding was the signing of a US$ 1 million lobbying fee by the Libyan Embassy in Washington DC. The lobbyist hired by the Tobruk-based HoR/Thinni Government was to market themselves to American political establishment, be that politicians, or media. Whichever Libyan government is responsible, Tobruk or Tripoli, all the world chronicles is a fiasco of irresponsible Libyan political spending demonstrating a lack of concern for its constituents, its future… its students. Instead the money is wasted by politicians marketing their government in Washington. True to form Libyan social media quips about the fiasco of their politicians who took photos in front of but were not invited into The White House.
Two: The Libyan Embassy’s US$ 1 Million Contract
Controversy surrounds this lobbying consultancy agreement.
Although signed on 20 March, it was then was correctly terminated on 23 April by Wafa Bughalghis, Libyan Charge-d’Affaires. Yet, based on the wording of the agreement, we argue that it should never have been signed as is.
The Scope of Work or duties to be performed are just bullet points.
The Lobbyist, Qorvis MSLGROUP took three pages and 25 detailed points to note the Embassy’s financial responsibility to them, yet Qorvis MSLGROUP duties, the Scope of Work consists of only a ½ page. As the consultancy agreement contains just bullet points without a detailed substantive description of the work provided it allows the lobbyist to interpret their duties. Interpretation could explain the low level of contact to American Politicians for the HoR members during their Washington visit and Ms. Bughalghis’ subsequent termination of the contract. The Scope of Work for The Libyan Embassy’s US$ 1 Million Consultancy Agreement:
Exhibit A Qorvis MSLGROUP will enhance Libya’s, outreach abilities in the media and to thee government. We will help ensure Libya’s messages reach the White House, the media, think tanks and the Hill. We will open channels of communication through government relations, and organize meetings for Libyan officials. There will also be outreach to the national news media, inside the Beltway print and online publications, and with TV news programs.
The scope is three-pronged:
- Political Advice and Counsel
- Political Insights
- Communications with the Administration
- Regular Briefings on Capitol Hill
- Communications Strategy and Support
- Message Development
- Rapid Response
- Media Relations
- Lobbying on the Hill
- Government relations
The Daily Beast: “Dead Broke Libya hires a Million-Dollar American Lobbyist”
The article release on the 29 April was 6 days after the termination of the contract. Therefore, Libya Al Hurra was absolutely correct in their tweet that the contract was terminated before the publishing of The Daily Beast article.
Yet, too late for publication as is, Shane Harris’ article in The Daily Beast still has relevance as certain parts must be discussed. Such as, IF Libya is unable to pay for its international students AND “speculated non-payment by the client” are why the law firm representing the Libyan Investment authority withdrew from representation in their case against Goldman Sachs – where did the Libya Embassy find the dollars and courage to pay for a Washington DC lobbyist? Shane Harris made the case that “Dead Broke Libya hires a Million-Dollar American Lobbyist” by getting another friend with big pockets to foot the bill. Mr. Harris offered a plausible answer in a precedent leaving even more questions that beg to be answered.
Incompetence? Rather, it seems inexperience. Ms. Bughaigis is a political appointment, not a career diplomat. According to a posting from The Libyan Herald on the website of Libyan Embassy in London states:
“The meeting itself follows unofficial reports that the Foreign Ministry has decided on a handful of key diplomatic appointments – all political figures rather than career diplomats, three of them women.
The article continues…
Wafa Bughaigis, the former Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, is said to have been made Chargé d’Affaires in Washington where there has been no ambassador since Ali Suleiman Aujali resigned at the beginning of last year.”
Ms. Bughaigis’ prompt termination the agreement demonstrates competence and wisdom sorely need from the Libyan Diplomatic Corps. Our articles about the Libyan Diplomatic Corps is discussed in: Hassan Tatanaki & US Government FARA documents for August 2011, 2008 and 1992 and our diplomacy article الدبلوماسية الليبية بين “المجاهدين القدماء” و “الثوار الجدد” و “بقايا النظام”.
Malfeasance should be dealt by the Libyan Media as a response to the demands of its citizenry. With the presence of the as-of-yet unverified document, Libya more than ever needs its media to cover this issue.
We considered this document from the perspective of WHY all information on the assets teams – academic and journalistic – should be disseminated. First, if this is legitimate, this would be an example of a scandal of corruption.
Secondly, if this document is legitimate, and it appears it may, then a discussion MUST be made about its content and the ramifications from this document.
We considered a document with no provenance for 9 reasons:
Previous relationship of Sam Serj, Ltd. documented with the Libyan Government.
Reaffirmation of that relationship in 2015. Sam Serj stated its ties with the Tobruk Government.
Tobruk disavowed one asset recovery team without naming another on the 15th of April.
International Community acknowledges ‘diverting Libyan Resources’. Reuters reported ‘The United States and five European countries warned on 12 May 2015 that Libyan state institutions which control billions of euros of national assets risked being exploited by rival forces wrestling for control of the country.’ First on the risk plan was the Libyan Central Bank. Their joint statement said, ‘We express our concern at attempts to divert Libyan resources to the narrow benefit of any side in the conflict and to disrupt financial and economic institutions that belong to all Libyans.’
Tobruk Government opening overseas bank accounts for oil sales for a rival NOC. The Jordan Times reported Tobruk Prime Minister Abdulla Thinni would ‘open a bank account overseas to hold revenues.‘ In response the rival Tripoli government offered accusations and threats that Tobruk were ‘bypassing the central bank.’ As reported ‘What our government has done, in changing the route of the oil revenues, is primarily to help the Libyan people,’ Thinni said in a statement on Tuesday. ‘The parallel National Oil Corporation in Tripoli is illegal.’
Tobruk PM Thinni announced bypassing the Libyan Central Bank. In a Reuter’s article on the 5 April 2015, and reconfirmed in another article on the 12th of June, Tobruk Prime Minister Abdullah Thinni ‘had authorized his internationally recognized government’s oil corporation to open a separate bank account in the United Arab Emirates for oil revenues and to seek independent oil sales.’ Further Reuters reported, ‘Al-Mabrook Bou Seif, head of Thinni’s NOC in eastern Libya’ said “any revenues from sales would be transferred from there to a central bank branch in Al-Bayda.’ That makes it a rival defacto Central Bank controlled by the Thinni Government.
In 2014 Tobruk dissatisfied with the Central Bank’s neutrality and HoR fires Central Bank Chief. The Central Bank Governor’s dismissal by the HoR was reported by Middle East Eye in September 2014. Allegations against the Governor by the HoR cover ‘a number of issues’, according to Libyan daily al-Wasat.’ The Middle East Eye noted, ‘After his return from Malta, (the Central Bank Governor) accused his deputy of transferring 80m Libyan dinars (approx. $65.3m) in funds from the account of the General National Council (GNC) to that of the HoR in Tobruk without his permission. Libya’s central bank has become caught up in the power struggles of recent months, as two opposing parliaments battle it out for influence in the battle-raged country.’
Credibility is content driven. The document’s creditability thus the legitimacy could derive from its content. An argument can be made from the second page in which points purportedly denote detailed logistical arrangements of gold/cash shipments as stipulated from a referenced prior contract. The purported reaffirmation of the rights and the percentages of the assets recovery teams indicates this was as written by someone familiar with a referenced prior contract between the assets teams and the Libyan Government. From page 2:
And no objections and are committed to the rights of the supporters (asset teams) and percentages according to the signed agreement and shipping, insurance and the manner to be deducted.
As the Jordanian Central bank has no legal relationship with Libya’s ‘supporters’, this superfluous purported addition demonstrates that the letter was written by an individual with knowledge of the assets teams but is incompetent in the banking field – with no prior experience with banking instructions or knowledge of the management of these bank accounts.
The Time Frame. As we already noted – the two dates of the 15th and the 22nd of April. The Daily Beast article mentioned the ‘diplomatic note to the Justice department on April 15‘ based on ‘The minister of justice of Libya has found the actions of the National Board of Erik Goaied to be fraudulent.’ And this April 22 unverified document purportedly notes the disavowed The National Board of Erik Goaied and Sam Serj – together on a bank account.
Therefore, we conclude based on ALL the above and deductive reasoning, there is a undeniable possibility of legitimacy. As such, we are required to proceed.
IF THIS DOCUMENT IS VERIFIED, what it purportedly says:
The current Libyan Minister of Justice, Dr. Almubrok G. Omran sent a letter informing the Central Bank of Jordan to open a Libyan account. It is dated 22nd of April. It gave instructions that the account will be set up in the names Sam Serj. Ltd. and The National Board for the Follow-up and Recovery of the Libyan Looted and Disguised Funds, aka The National Board. The account will receive cash and gold and instruction about the shipments. Libyan Foreign Minister Dr. Omran noted two signatories for the account, himself and Mr. Omran Abdel Kafi Garboua, Executive Consultant for Government Lawsuits Department.
IF THIS DOCUMENT IS VERIFIED, From a banking perspective why it would launch red flags?
First and foremost, the Central Bank of Libya would not involved. This action is within the duties of the Central bank NOT the Ministry of Justice. As the Minister of Justice contacted the Jordanian Central bank directly he sidestepped the Libyan Central Bank altogether. This is a Central Bank to Central Bank transaction, as such because it was bypassed one should ask why?
Secondly, why would the Minister of Justice be involved AT ALL? This is a political action, Nation to Nation then Bank to Bank – yet, the letter purportedly originated with the Libyan Minister of Justice. As this would be a political action between States therefore; it would be from the Libyan Foreign Minister to the Jordanian Foreign Minister via a letter requesting an account. In other words, Libya would be seeking political clearance that Jordan agrees to host the money for Libya. With a political agreement, the Libyan Foreign Minister would order the Libyan Central Bank Governor to contact the Jordanian Central Bank Governor. AGAIN, the Minister of Justice would not be involved.
Third, the way it would be organized with these two signatories is dangerous – as it is an invitation for theft. This is why it not standard banking practice to organize an account with 10s of Billions of dollars. As is, if both signatories are fired from their position tomorrow, they would purportedly still be in control of the account of tens of billions of dollars. Simply stated, two signatories could conspire to clean out that account.
To avoid this scenario, the general banking practice is that the person who monitors, audits and supervises the account is NOT a signatory on the account, i.e. The Minister of Justice. In practice these major government accounts have a board of directors or a supervisory committee that orders or approves the signatory to sign. The standard practice is that signatories would sign ONLY on the instructions of a supervisory government board. As there would be a supervisory board, if the signatory is dismissed from his position that board will contact the bank and remove his signature.
The fail-safe mechanism of the supervisory board is absent. In this scenario, the minister supervising – is himself one of two signatories that he appointed! In other words, the minister would be supervisor and signatory without any measure of oversight on an account of 10s of billions of dollars of the Libyan money. In conclusion, NONE of these anti-corruption oversight banking practices would exist.
IF THIS DOCUMENT IS VERIFIED, why would it be an example of corruption?
- The letter is written to keep the Libyan Central Bank out of the transaction. Minister of Justice is working within the realm of the Libyan Central Bank Governor’s duties.
- The minister who requested the bank account and organized its structure – also nominated himself as one of two signatories on the account.
- No oversight supervisory committee is indicated to monitoring the account.
- The National Board of Erik Goaied is a legitimate governmental organization.
If a possibility exists that Sam Serj or ‘The National Board of Erik Goaied’ are back – and as Sam Serj reaffirmed ties with Tobruk AND as Tobruk did not designate another team – we argue that it is the Libyan citizenry’s right to know from THEIR OWN MEDIA the qualifications of the assets teams contracted by THEIR politicians to handle THEIR inheritance. And is why all articles should be disseminated – to provide ALL evidence for a fully informed debate.
An Informed Conclusion
Why hasn’t Libya Al-Mostakbal reprinted? Awareness? No, we documented that LM and Mr. Al-Amin were aware of Dr. Adelman’s and Shane Harris’ articles by emails and social media. Actually, until recently* a LM revealed no search for ‘Shane Harris’ but there is another recently attributed Shane Harris article*, as well as 4 The Daily Beast references.
*Inserts: BEFORE attribution and BEFORE ‘Shane Harris’ was in the LM Search.
So the conclusion is: re-printing journalist Shane Harris and The Daily Beast articles are not a problem – but when you add Erik Goaied – can we conclude this seems the impetus for Libya Al-Mostakbal not to reprint? Our PDF images of LM searches: The Daily Beast Libya Al-Mostakbal search and Shane Harris unattributed in Libya Al-Mostakbal 68906* and Shane Harris Libya Al-Mostakbal search*
Given the significance & in deference to Mr. Al-Amin: a list of possibilities for LM editorial decisions:
- Awareness: To LM/Mr. Al-Amin-3 direct & 5 public tweets: 9 April. Email: 24 March & 9 April.
- Dr Adelman agreed to reprint. No copyright infringements.
- LM has a site disclaimer: Legal protection, the views of the writer do not reflect LM.
- English Language. Not a problem. LM is a primarily Arabic site but regularly reprints English language original and re-printed articles. For example: Asma Magariaf, Hafed Al Ghwell and Dominique Soguel has many articles including most recently.
- Non-Libyan contributors are not a problem. For example; Mary Fitzgerald, Jason Pack or Dominique Soguel.
- Copyright infringements, lawsuit-wise. Again, reprinting does seems to be a problem. Asma Magariaf’s article, Dominique Soguel has 163 references, Mary Fitzgerald has 31 references including this FP article and Jason Pack has 3 references, an article including two PDFs – one an Atlantic Council HERE and HERE.
As his editorial decisions could not be explained by any of the first six – barring any other explanation from Mr. Al-Amin himself – we are left with politics. Left with politics… we now believe a investigation is warranted surrounding the last team in Libya’s asset recovery scandal.
Facts & Politics about Sam Serj, Asset Recovery AND the Maltese Connection:
Sam Serj, Ltd., is a company incorporated in Malta.
Sam Serj, Ltd., ‘does not advertise itself as having expertise in asset recovery.’ as Dr Adelman noted. See our PDF: ‘Sam Serj Ltd — Libya – Tarabulus Importer -Exporter,
A Maltese citizen was head of the Libyan Assets Recovery effort in 2013. According to a Bloomberg Businessweek article, as relayed in our article of September 2014, former Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdel Aziz appointed his son-in-law, Abdalla Kablan, a Maltese citizen, as head of the Libyan Assets Recovery effort in 2013. To corroborate we located a PDF where Abdalla Kablan was noted as the head of Libya’s Assets Recovery while both, Mr. Kablan and Mohamed Abdel Aziz attended a summit in Tunisia in 24 October 2013. Our PDF: Tunis Oct 2013 Mohamed Abdel Aziz and Abdalla Kablan. An excerpt from the August 2014 Bloomberg Businessweek article by David Samuels, How Libya Blew Billions and Its Best Chance at Democracy:
‘When the accounts were discovered, the person nominally in charge of Libya’s stolen asset recovery program was Abdalla Kablan, a 27-year-old mathematician whose experience in international finance was with a company called Exante. Based in Malta, it is a broker for, among other currencies, Bitcoin, the virtual currency favored by drug dealers and money launderers. Kablan also happened to be a Maltese citizen, which made him either a very clever or a highly unlikely choice to represent Libya in adversarial proceedings with that country: His appointment was apparently helped by his being the son-in-law of Libya’s current minister of foreign affairs, Mohammed Abdelaziz..’
In our September article, we discussed that in the summer of 2014, ministers and members of the Zeidan Government were involved in assets recovery – focusing efforts on Malta. Our article was based on a document, a copy which we retain, chronicled a worldwide group of international participants who have hired lawyers in each country to recover the Libyan stolen assets including the Dabaibas’ stolen money. The Dabaibas’ stolen assets are in about 100 companies with THE TEAM’s estimate of USD$ 2 billion. The document mentioned a couple of present and former government officials and a few ministries or departments as well as International lawyers and journalists. As indicated by the document this asset recovery team been working on the issue for quite a while and was frustrated with the Libyan Government’s effort, the availability of ministers and other government officials.
Malta: A Hotbed of Shady Characters? Mathew Vella, editor of Malta Today in his January 2015 article commented on the Libyan businessmen located in Malta. Mr. Vella’s enlightening excerpt is as it was written, needing no commentary from us:
Libyan businessmen fleeing turmoil in their country have found ‘asylum’ at the Mosta offices of chartered accountant Joe Sammut, says the specialist intelligence newspaper Maghreb Confidential.
Initially making a name for himself by easing the way for transactions carried out by Muammar Gaddafi’s family before his regime collapsed, Sammut houses the operations of Sealandair Energy International, an oil trading concern owned by Tunisian brothers Ghazi Mellouli and Maher Mellouli that was highly active in Libya’s oil market.
Maher Mellouli subsequently found himself targeted by the American investigative firm Command Global Services (CGS) that was tasked by a Libyan magistrate to hunt down a reported $30-$80 billion in diamonds, gold and cash stashed around the world by Gaddafi.
Among Libyan firms which have found safety in Sammut’s office are Mabco Holding, which operates in the real estate and tourism sectors, run by businessman Jalal Baayou, and Ferasa International Trading & Construction, which is owned by Zuhir Abdusalam Almuntasar who works in the oil services trade.
Others are more discreet firms like Lamar International Group, headed by Naser al Jerrari, Jawal, headed by Abdulmoneim Abulghasseim, and West Tripoli and Tripoli Stone Company.
Command Global Services was said to have focused attention on Tunisian businessman Ghazi Mellouli and his brother Maher, reportedly having been close to the Gaddafi regime and particularly to Mohamed Giloushi, chief-of-staff of former prime minister Baghdadi Mahmoudi. An oil trading operation run by the two brothers, Sealandair Energy International, was allegedly operated on behalf of the regime. Maher Mellouli is registered as a 9.9% owner of the company. The rest is held by Best Inter Ltd, a holding company for both Sealandair and Gencon International.
Sounds like assets recovery, doesn’t it? ‘ …to hunt down a reported $30-$80 billion in diamonds, gold and cash stashed around the world by Gaddafi.’ And ‘…focused attention on Tunisian businessman Ghazi Mellouli and his brother Maher, reportedly having been close to the Gaddafi regime and particularly to Mohamed Giloushi, chief-of-staff of former prime minister Baghdadi Mahmoudi.’ Interesting as Mr. Vella noted, all these Tunisian names with ties to the regime and Libyans names housed under one roof.
Libya’s Ambassador to Malta. We note that Mr. Hassan Al-Amin’s brother Habib, former Minister of Culture under the Zeidan Government, is the present Libyan Ambassador to Malta. As noted on the Libyan Embassy-London site, there is a controversy about Habib Amin’s appointment. It seems despite this controversy ‘the Foreign Affairs Committee is said to have given the nod despite reservations about Al-Amin’s ambassadorship to Malta.’ While the article notes other diplomats as having been sacked because allegiances or alleged allegiances to Tripoli Government, Mr. Habib Amin became the Libyan Ambassador to strategically important Malta under the HoR/ Thinni government and he successfully bridged both governments.
The Libyan Herald article on the Libyan Embassy site:
Also, former first Deputy President of the General National Congress Ezzidden Al-Awami has been nominated Libyan ambassador in Rome, former Culture Minister Habib Al-Amin as ambassador in Malta and Marj businessman and prominent National Forces Alliance member Sharif Alwafi as the envoy in Beirut.
So far there has been formal approval for any of these appointments from the HoR although the Foreign Affairs Committee is said to have given the nod despite reservations about Al-Amin’s ambassadorship to Malta.
There has been no announcement about a new ambassador to Jordan to replace Mohamed Agheirani, sacked in September after he agreed to become foreign minister in Omar Al-Hassi’s antigovernment in Tripoli.
The Committee is also believed to be planning to call back the Libya ambassador in Brazil following unconfirmed allegations that he supports Libya Dawn.
Meanwhile the government in Beida has appointd Mohammed Kamal Bazaza, who was a member of the GNC’s media office, as its official spokesman. His father, Kamal Bazaza, a colonel in Libya intelligence, was assassinated by militants a year ago.
Has any of these facts had a bearing on Hassan Al-Amin’s editorial decision not to reprint these articles or was it just an unexpected coincidence? We may never know. Mr. Al-Amin intransigence has stunted a healthy discussion of the contentious issue of the Libyan Assets Recovery teams.
It is decision time. We know first-hand that the Libyan Assets story is not dead – the articles of Dr. Adelman’s, ours and the rest of the international journalists’ have made their way to other bigger stories. Compounding the issue is the ‘extraordinary’ action by the American government to remove, wipe clean the FARA site of Erik Goaied and WACG as the lobbyist for Libya in Washington. The Justice Department’s action far from concludes the issue of Erik Goaied & WACG with respect to Libya – it only adds to the fuel to the journalists’ curiosity.
For LM and Mr. Al-Amin, these article will force a decision: TO PRINT OR NOT. We hope Mr. Al-Amin will fall on the right side of the forthcoming articles by informing his readers about their politicians – Tripoli & Tobruk – and what have been doing with their money. Until Mr. Al-Amin decides to do the right thing and to present ALL articles for their scrutiny, we will present the excerpts from Dr. Adelman’s articles.
To print George Clooney OR NOT to print George Clooney Finally, about the 34th George Clooney reference, we ask Mr. Al-Amin to resist and direct his staff to a more fruitful, productive endeavor. Consider The 2013 Libyan Audit report PDF or the soon to be released 2014 accounting from Tobruk on the Libyan money spent, wasted or just unaccounted for. From these Audit reports, your staff’s efforts would be on a more worthy endeavor in the form of a Libya specific article. We offer our PDF to Libya Al-Mostakbal: التقرير السنوي المجمع لديوان المحاسبة Audit Report 2013
To be continued….
A note from the Authors: Due to our need to devote time to another story, we chose to print the main thrust of this article without the smaller second and third parts of the article. That is a discussion of journalism with a study of the correlation between a free, independent press and the lower level of governmental malfeasance. We will conclude by noting the future of Libyan journalism, with two United Nations organizations efforts that will shape or misshape Libya’s free and independent press. We will finish the two remaining parts shortly.
Parts of this op/ed article is reproduced in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.