Belgium (Brussels Morning newspaper), Once a shiny Judge who made the headlines during the Qatargate case, Judge Michel Claiseappears to face more troubles from his previous work as the Libyan Government is accusing him of “corruption” and being “politically motivated”
The Judge who was forced to resign from the Qatargate crisis due to a conflict of interest with Maria Arena MEP, is now in the spotlight by the state of Libya. More bad news is hitting the Judiciary system in Belgium as the Libyan Investment Authority has commenced legal action against Prince Laurent, The King’s brother; according to Louis Colart of Le Soir.
The lawyers of Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), a Libyan sovereign wealth fund are mounting a landmark legal action to seek 15 billion euros which were seized by Belgium authorities with “influence trafficking”, “extortion” and “fraud” as they claim in the legal action.
The LIA now accuses the Prince of trying to interfere in the legal proceedings opened in 2015. An investigation for “laundering” and “breach of trust”, still pending, had been entrusted to Judge Michel Claise. The justice system is investigating to determine whether the funds deposited in Belgium by the former regime would be of criminal origin, it is also interested in the release of more than €2.7 billion in interest generated by these frozen funds in 2012 and 2017. This release of interests by the Belgian Finance Administration was considered non-compliant by the UN in 2018, responsible for the freezing of Libyan assets.
Thus, in October 2017, investigating judge Michel Claise carried out a criminal seizure of €15 billion belonging to the LIA in the Euroclear bank, located in Brussels. The money was frozen there due to UN international sanctions against the regime of former Libyan head of state Muammar Gaddafi. Nevertheless, in 2012, the LIA managed to obtain the release of two billion euros from these accounts.
The Libyan Government has been very critical of the Belgian action and vowed to retrieve the confiscated funds. LIA Chairman, Ali Mahmoud Hassan-Mohamed has told Libyan Press that they become a target by the Belgian government.
Qatargate Judge and Conflict of Interest.
Observers suggest that the Belgian Judiciary is really facing tough times as it implicates and negatively affects the foreign policy of Belgium with Qatargate and now the LIA as examples. Indeed, the Libyan case can’t be isolated from the Qatargate with Judge Michel Claise being a common factor where justice is being questioned.
Brussels Morning spoke to a well-informed source within the Libyan Government which bluntly accuses the Belgian government of “theft” and “mafia” tactics violating international law and politicization of the case to confiscate the funds.
Tvpworld added that the prince, brother of the king, and Libyan authorities signed a multimillion-euro contract in 2008 aimed at reforesting desert regions of inland Libya. The project collapsed with the outbreak of civil war in Libya in 2011.
The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) alleges that the prince exerted “unacceptable pressure” in an attempt to obtain payment of nearly EUR 70 million (USD 78.52 mln) which he claimed the Libyan Ministry for Agriculture owed him
Law firm Jus Cogens, which represents the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), said it filed the complaint against Prince Laurent for extortion, fraud, and illegal influence this week.
“We have communicated factual elements to the investigative judge showing, according to us, that Prince Laurent abused his status as a public office holder”, said Christophe Marchand, founding partner at Jus Cogens.
Interpol is being exploited by the Belgian Government
The sources also accused the Belgian Judiciary of being “corrupt” which has “No credibility” and being used by the state as a political tool. He added that Tripoli is planning to sue the Minister of Justice and those involved in what they described as “theft” and “criminal act”.
The source revealed that Judge Michel Claise was very corrupt and had no integrity as he rushed to issue a warrant against Ali Mahmoud Hassan, chairman of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA).
“We know for a fact that Michel Claise did not want to achieve Justice here and only worked for the sake of the Belgian prince. It’s rather shocking to see how such action is being taken rapidly to serve the Belgian interest and “steel” Libyan funds which are only Libyan as seats where Belgium has no right to claim whatsoever” said the source.
In May 2023, Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) announced that the Secretary-General of Interpol in Lyon has canceled the Belgian authorities’ request to issue an international arrest warrant against the Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of the Libyan Investment Authority, Ali Mahmoud.
The Belgian authorities had previously requested that Interpol issue an international arrest warrant against Mahmoud, but the Libyan Investment Authority objected to the request, citing political motivations. Interpol temporarily suspended the request in June 2022, pending a final decision on whether to cancel it permanently. The Libyan Investment Authority confirmed that Interpol has now canceled the request, stating that it did not comply with Interpol’s rules due to its political nature. The decision affirms that retaining data related to Mahmoud in Interpol’s records would jeopardize the organization’s neutrality under Article 3 of Interpol’s constitution.