Libya under Colonel Muammar Gadhafi entrusted $1.3 billion through its sovereign wealth fund to Goldman Sachs in 2007, of which the investment bank lost approximately 98%, sparking the ire of Libyan officials. The fascinating drama includes Goldman offering Libya preferred equity and debt which could’ve made it one of the investment bank’s largest shareholders during the onset of the crisis, as well as Libya’s sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), was among many funds set up by emerging economies to grow their export-based riches.
Now a lawsuit the fund accuses Goldman Sachs bankers of leading their Libyan clients into a $1.2 billion loss by feting them with prostitutes, vacations and other gifts.
Attorneys for the Libyan Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund said Monday in High Court in London, UK that the multinational banking giant behaved like a “bank of mafiosa” and took in “eyewatering” profits over $200 million.
Chairman and CEO of LIA Abdul-Magid Breish
Representatives for Goldman have rejected the allegations in the lawsuit first filed two years ago, blaming the fund’s losses in nine 2008 trades on the worldwide financial crisis.
Yet a former Goldman banker spent $31,000 on a single “training” trip to London for LIA officials that included lavish entertainment and rooms at “stylish hotels,” according to court documents.
The same banker, who has denied wrongdoing, took an intern who is the brother of a onetime deputy chief at LIA on several vacations to Morocco, the lawsuit said. He also took the intern to a conference in Dubai, arranging business-class flights, five-star lodging and prostitutes for the two of them, according to the lawsuit.
The gifts concealed inappropriately risky investments in derivatives linked with stocks in Citigroup, the French utility EDF and other companies, the lawsuit said.
Internal Goldman emails and messages disclosed Monday described the LIA as “very unsophisticated” and Goldman’s discussions with the fund as “a pitch on structured leveraged loans to someone who lives in the middle of the desert with his camels,” court filings showed.
Libyan leader Muammar set a program to diversify country’s portfilio
Attorneys for Goldman have said the LIA, which severed ties with the bank after the trades, deserves all the blame for the billion-dollar losses.“The LIA selected the underlying stocks based on its own research, conducted over weeks or months, and did so because, like other Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds, it thought they were undervalued,” said a court filing by the bank. The trial began Monday and is slated to last around seven weeks, with LIA seeking all $1.2 billion it lost back from Goldman. The violence-torn country’s fund, which is itself the subject of dispute between chairmen representing several factions in Libya, still boasts $67 billion in assets.