Credit Suisse leak: Network of Gaddafi-era officials embezzled millions of dollars of Libyan state money

Credit Suisse leak: Network of Gaddafi-era officials embezzled millions of dollars of Libyan state money
Cousin and brother-in-law to embattled Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah reportedly embezzled tens of millions from state investment projects, according to the OCCRP.
2 min read
26 February, 2022
Embattled Libyan PM Abdulhamid Dbeibah is attempting to remove Libya's sanctions list [Getty]

A string of secret accounts held by Libyan officials and businessmen, full of funds allegedly embezzled from sovereign infrastructure projects, was discovered by 'Suisse Secrets' investigators.

Leaked data from inside Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse uncovered previously unknown accounts belonging to Ali Ibrahim Dbeibah and three other Libyan businessmen who were involved in infrastructure plans commissioned during the Gadaffi era

The accounts collectively hold tens of millions of dollars in assets that have evaded a decade of sanctions

The leaked account details further confirm the open secret in Libya that the Organisation for Development of Administrative Centres (ODAC) was the source of endemic corruption and embezzlement, which continued for years after Gaddafi was deposed and killed in October 2011. 

In 2012, the new Libyan government added Dbeibah to a list of sanctioned officials whose assets should be frozen, after audits found that under his 20-year leadership, as much as 9 billion Libyan dinars may have been embezzled - but sanctions were never fully imposed internationally. 

“Credit Suisse strongly rejects the allegations and inferences about the bank’s purported business practices,” said the bank in a statement responding to the allegations. 

“The matters presented are predominantly historical … including at a time where laws, practices and expectations of financial institutions were very different from where they are now”, they said. 

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Scrapping the sanctions list 

The Libyan government, led by PM Abdulhamid Dbeibah, brother-in-law to Ali Ibrahim, has recently moved to scrap the sanctions list used to reclaim Libyan funds siphoned into foreign accounts, while announcing a raft of new infrastructure projects using public funds.

Abdulhamid Dbeibah was among those originally sanctioned by Libyan auditors in 2012, alongside his brother-in-law. 

“There are … justified fears that cronies associated with [Abdulhamid] Dbeibah would use investment projects to siphon off profits through commissions or other methods,” wrote Wolfram Lacher, a senior associate at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, in a recent paper.

“After all, Dbeibah represents a network that is notorious for doing just that.” he said. 

The cross-border media investigation, dubbed ‘Suisse Secrets’, claims that Switzerland's second-largest bank had held billions of dollars of ill-gotten funds for decades, including hundreds of millions in the accounts of leaders from across the MENA region.