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14 Jun, 2016 10:38

Libya sues Goldman Sachs for lost $1.2bn, claims hookers & private jets used as bribes

Libya sues Goldman Sachs for lost $1.2bn, claims hookers & private jets used as bribes

Libya's national investment fund is attempting to claw back $1.2 billion from nine trades it carried out with Goldman Sachs in 2008, which supposedly came about after the bank used prostitutes, private jets, and five star hotels to secure contracts.

Libya's national investment fund is attempting to claw back $1.2 billion from nine trades it carried out with Goldman Sachs in 2008, which supposedly came about after the bank used prostitutes, private jets, and five star hotels to secure contracts.

The same year Goldman Sachs raised more money for Barack Obama than any other company, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) says CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s team used ‘undue influence', taking advantage of LIA’s financial naivety by first gaining its trust, and then encouraging it to participate in risky complex trades which the fund did not understand.

“The disputed trades were inherently unsuitable for a nascent sovereign wealth fund such as the LIA and Goldman Sachs knew (or at the very least suspected) the LIA did not properly understand the trades, which were highly structured, complex and risky,” Libya’s Investment Authority said in a document submitted to the court.

The court heard how LIA staff received the five-star treatment and were showered with lavish gifts, hotel stays, and expensive meals during trips to Dubai, London, and Morocco.

Primarily organized by former Goldman Sachs banker Youssef Kabbaj, short trips racked up more than $31,000 in expenses.

LIA also claim during one trip, Haitem Zarti, the younger brother of the fund’s deputy executive officer, was offered an internship at the bank and Kabbaj later paid for a “pair of prostitutes to entertain them both one evening” at a cost of $600, according to Reuters.

Goldman deny the claims, saying they’re “without merit” and that the company “will continue to defend them vigorously.”

"The LIA's plea that it was 'financially illiterate' is as unfounded as it is extreme," the bank said in its court filings.

The hearing started on Monday at the High Court in London and is expected to run for several weeks.

Libya’s $67 billion national fund was set up in 2006 under Muammar Gaddafi to manage the huge revenues from the country’s oil sales.

READ MORE: Goldman Sachs slashes jobs amid slowdown in trading, mergers — report

LIA has also filed a lawsuit against French investment bank Societe Generale in relation to $2.1 billion worth of trades it entered into with the bank between 2007 and 2009. Societe Generale is contesting the case.

This was at a time when George W. Bush was in the White House, with Henry Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury, a position he was able to fill only after he stepped down as chairman of Goldman Sachs.

Alongside Paulson in the White House at the time was Josh Bolten, a former executive director for legal and government affairs at Goldman, but served as Bush’s chief of staff between 2006 and 2009, while former managing partner of the Goldman Sachs Paris office, Reuben Jeffery, was appointed by Bush as the under secretary of state for economic, business, and agricultural affairs in June 2007.

The overlap between the investment bank and the White House continued from Bush through to the Obama administration.

Only at the end of May were questions raised over the the links between Goldman Sachs and Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, who has been questioned about the connections during the primary campaign.

The former New York senator was paid $675,000 in personal speaking fees by the company while her husband, former President Bill Clinton, earned $1,550,000 in personal speaking fees, according to The Intercept.

Donations between $250,000 and $500,000 have also been made to the couple’s Clinton Foundation by Goldman Sachs.

Clinton’s son-in-law Marc Mezvinsky founded the hedge fund Eaglevale Partners LP in 2011 and has a number of wealthy Wall Street backers including Blankfein.

Last month, Clinton refused to answer how much was invested by him.

Wall Street’s windfall at Libya’s expense would have been illegal just a few years prior, when the north African country was still considered a ‘sponsor of terrorism’ by the US state department and US citizens could only conduct business with "express consent from the Treasury Department.”

Paulson was the treasury secretary when Libya was taken off the naughty list, opening up a free-for-all between US companies and the oil-rich nation.

Previous reports suggested Goldman Sachs held almost $605 million worth of Libyan government assets while JPMorgan Chase had $513 million on the books.

Wells Fargo and Bank of America were also involved, although on a smaller scale, with almost $7 million worth of Libyan government assets, according to the New York Post.

Things went sour, however, when Gaddafi started making plans for a pan-African currency using almost $7 billion in gold and silver, according to an email from Sidney Blumenthal to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The email also revealed how conservative French President Nicolas Sarkozy saw the opportunity to invade Libya and overthrow Gaddafi as a chance to  “gain a greater share of Libya oil production” and “provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world.”

There have also been claims that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was in on it - and benefited financially.

He traveled to Libya on a number of occasions during 2008 and 2009 lobbying for JP Morgan, according to the Telegraph, in the hope LIA would invest some of their money with them, although Blair has denied the claims.

Jim Jatras, a former US diplomat and GOP policy adviser, told RT that Clinton’s policies on Libya at the time were a “complete disaster,” but she fails to recognize it.

READ MORE: ‘Hillary Clinton never mentioned Libyan disaster, which is her baby more than anybody’s’

Blumenthal, a close friend of the Clintons, is on the payroll of their foundation as a consultant and was involved in a business venture in Libya at the time.