Apparently the Libyan government prefers to invest in the UK over the U.S. because he thinks it’s easier to do business there.
On January 20th, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya met with Mohamed Layas, the Head of the Libyan Investment Authority (the LIA, Libya’s sovereign wealth fund).
Layas told the Ambassador that he prefers the UK because of the “ease of doing business” and the relatively “uncomplicated tax system.”
Also interesting: LIA is battling with Lehman Brothers over a major investment that it says was “mismanaged” by the firm.
The following transmission is from a summary of what happened during the meeting, sent from the Embassy Tripoli to an unknown destination.
The transmission was recently sent from WikiLeaks to the Telegraph:
The Ambassador stressed the U.S. commitment to the bilateral relationship, including in trade and investment. He inquired about the state of the Libyan economy and the LIA’s wealth in particular, given fallen oil prices and the recent world economic crisis.
Layas informed the Ambassador that Libya had “weathered the storm” of the economic crisis. He noted that the LIA operated with “high liquidity,” and therefore was not concerned about the volatility of the oil market. “We have USD TRIPOLI 00000079 002 OF 002 32 billion in liquidity,” he stated, “mostly in bank deposits that will give us good long-term returns.”
He explained that several American banks are each managing USD 300-500 million of LIA’s funds, and opined that the LIA was entangled in a legal disagreement with Lehman Brother’s due to a major investment that was “mismanaged.”
He said that the LIA has an office in London and preferred doing business there rather than in the United States, due to the “ease of doing business” in the UK and relatively “uncomplicated tax system.” He noted that the LIA’s primary investments are in London, in banking and residential and commercial real estate.