This is a burning issue for the Libyan Investment Authority. At stake is the Fnac building at Ternes in Paris, €150m of EMTN debt securities placed with Société Générale and several hundred million euros worth of securities placed with the BIA bank.
The Kuwaiti construction group is hoping for confirmation of the seizures it obtained in 2013, after the Egyptian arbitration court ruled in its favour.
Al Kharafi claimed nearly $1bn in compensation after a real estate project in Janzour, near Tripoli, was cancelled. This was because the contract signed in 2006, with the Libyan state, had never been finalised.
The Court of Cassation will have to make a decision based on two contradictory court rulings that were issued in 2019. On one hand, the Paris Court of Appeal validated Al Kharafi’s seizures, while on the other hand, the Versailles Court of Appeal granted the LIA immunity from execution, thus allowing it to protect its assets.
What about the asset freeze?
The question regarding the legality of seizing frozen assets was on the agenda as the assets of the sovereign wealth fund are covered by UN sanctions that were imposed in 2011.
This was one of the arguments of the LIA’s defence team, which also fears that the case will set a precedent. According to Al Kharafi’s lawyers, the aim will be to have the link between the sovereign wealth fund and the Libyan state recognised.
The French Treasury General Directorate had rejected the request to unfreeze the assets in October 2020, arguing that the LIA was not part of the contract signed between the Kuwaiti group and the Libyan state.