Libya’s sovereign wealth fund has lodged a criminal complaint against Prince Laurent of Belgium, alleging fraud and extortion in relation to his efforts to recover funds from a failed reforestation project, lawyers said on Friday.
This week, the law firm Jus Cogens, representing the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), filed a complaint against Prince Laurent, accusing him of extortion, fraud, and illegal influence.
“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.
Prince in 2008, along with Libyan authorities, entered into a lucrative contract worth millions of euros.
The contract’s objective was to reforest the desert areas in inland Libya. However, due to the onset of the civil war in Libya in 2011, the project ultimately failed to materialize.
According to the LIA the prince resorted to exerting “unacceptable pressure” in his pursuit to receive a payment of approximately 70 million euros ($78.52 million) that he believes is owed to him by the Libyan Ministry for Agriculture.
“It’s pathetic”, the prince’s lawyer Laurent Arnauts said in a statement.
“Libyan dignitaries are trying to save face because they’ve just lost a 13th time before the Belgian courts and in Luxembourg”.
Since 2011, Libya has faced international sanctions, leading to the freezing of the country’s 14 billion euros sovereign wealth in the Brussels-based bank Euroclear.