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Former Libya Oil Wealth Handler Arrested For Fraud

The former CEO of the bank responsible for handling Libya’s oil wealth has been arrested for fraud, according to Libyan security and judicial officials cited by Bloomberg—and the bank shakeup could trickle down to the oil production level. 

The move to arrest the former CEO of Libyan Foreign Bank (LFB)—Libya’s central bank—is just the latest in the years’ long saga for the entity responsible for handling the country’s oil money, such that it is.

Mohamed bin Youssef has been charged with “squandering funds and mismanaging the bank’s assets,” Bloomberg reported, citing an official at the Interior Ministry. 

Libya’s oil revenues have been a sticking point in Libya’s recovery, with warring factions controlling either the oilfields or the money—not both. The bank’s leadership has been another source of contention, which resulted in bin Youssef being ousted back in 2018 for allegedly falsifying profits and making risky investments that LFB’s chairman says cost the bank $1.6 billion.

But things might not be that clear. In fact, who currently sits in the bank’s top spot is almost as clear as who is in charge of the county’s oil. Bin Youssef claims that he is still officially listed as the bank’s CEO. 

Libya’s oil revenues have been hit hard by the blockade that has been in effect since January, with Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC) claiming that it has lost billions in oil revenue to date. While some ports and oilfields have reopened in the past week, Libya’s oil production is just a shell of what it used to be when it was producing more than a million barrels per day. 

Oil prices were stressed on Monday as reports of the blockade liftings showed that Libya’s oil production had risen from 100,000 bpd to 250,000 bpd. However, these central bank uncertainties may trigger even more chaos in the oil sector as warring parties try to make sure “their man” is installed in the top bank position. 

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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