SocGen seeks to push back trial date in Libya fund case

Mon Jul 18, 2016 12:37pm EDT
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By Claire Milhench

LONDON (Reuters) - French investment bank Societe Generale on Monday asked for an adjournment to push back the date of a trial in a long-running dispute with Libya's $67 billion sovereign wealth fund over a series of trades entered into between 2007 and 2009.

At London's High Court, Adrian Beltrami, a lawyer acting for SocGen, requested an adjournment, citing the amount of work that still needed to be done before the three-month trial is scheduled to start on January 23, 2017.

The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) is pursuing the French bank for some $2.1 billion in relation to the disputed trades.

In court filings seen by Reuters, the LIA alleges the trades were procured through a "fraudulent and corrupt scheme" involving the payment of $58.5 million to a Panamanian-registered company called Lenaida, controlled at the time by Libyan businessman Walid Giahmi.

SocGen has said it refutes the allegations and "any claim tending to question the lawfulness of these investments".

Giahmi's representatives have not responded to repeated requests for comment on the case.

Beltrami said that a parallel investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice had added to the workload, which meant that the timetable for the case had become very compressed.

A subpoena originally served on the New York branch of SocGen in April 2014 requires the production of all documents in the investment bank's possession or control regarding its business in Libya from 2004 to April 2014.   Continued...

The logo of the French bank Societe Generale is seen in front of the bank's headquarters building at La Defense business and financial district in Courbevoie near Paris, France, April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes