SocGen avoided a potentially embarrassing day in court

LONDON — Libya’s sovereign wealth fund settled a $US2 billion (£1.6 billion) dispute against French bank Societe Generale on the day the trial was scheduled to start in London’s High Court.

The Libyan Investment Authority had claimed the bank intimidated and bribed Libyan officials to carry out five trades between 2007 and 2009.

The fund said the bank paid around $US58 million in bribes to Libyan officials, via a Panamanian business called Leinada, to obtain the deals. The bank denied the claims.

The parties said they “jointly announce that they have signed a confidential settlement agreement that resolves all matters between both parties concerning five financial transactions entered into between 2007 and 2009 that have been the subject of legal action in the English High Court.”

The terms of the settlement are confidential.

SocGen said it wished “to place on record its regret about the lack of caution of some of its employees” and apologised to the LIA. The bank said it “hopes that the challenges faced at this difficult time in Libya’s development are soon overcome.”

The LIA, set up in 2006 to invest Libya’s oil wealth internationally, also sued Goldman Sachs last year but was unsuccessful.

The organisation claimed Goldman Sachs took advantage of the low level of financial literacy of LIA staff, and suggested large and risky trades that led to heavy losses for the Libyans and large margins for the bank.
While Goldman Sachs won the dispute, embarrassing details, such as text messages between a former salesman and an alleged prostitute, emerged during the court case.

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