Something got me thinking about this case last night. So I did some digging. When I last reported on this debacle, I think I said something about it pending in court in London. I may have predicted a settlement of sorts. Now there is one – of sorts.
This all started rolling in 2012 when the UK, France, and other powers toppled Col. Gaddafi. Gaddafi had $Billions sitting around in his (relatively) new sovereign Investment Authority (LIA). The UK swooped in and grabbed it. Legally, they “froze” the accounts. But, technically, physically, they hauled the loot back to London.
And there it will stay. Most of it.
Enter the Goldman Sachs. Goldman obviously had some arrangement with the UK or the LIA, and also with then Secretary of State Clinton regarding something in the financial “transfer”. Clinton was well paid as a Goldman speaker and consultant. That pay must have bought some influence with the Obama administration (my thoughts, what do I know?). Said administration assisted with the toppling of Gaddafi. Benghazi, etc. Al-CIA-da moved into Libya and largely took over. The country has been in chaos ever since – a side benefit?
The main point and purpose was to allow the British to round up nearly the money – I heard estimates from $65 Billion to $200 Billion. Mission accomplished. For their part Goldman was probably promised or expected a commission. But, treason!, the British, the LIA, or someone reneged on the deal. (Clinton was kind of promised the White House; that fell through also).
Not that the general public cares, at all, but it’s likely that no-one politically or militarily involved wanted to risk an investigation into theft, war crimes, etc. Still, Goldman, was owed some of the money. So they attempted a settlement with the Libyan Investment Authority. For all purposes, practical and legal, it appears the settlement proceeded in reverse: the LIA sued Goldman in London. Goldman answered and counterclaimed for their money.
In October, Goldman won a $1.2 Billion judgement. The Ruling is 120-pages long, most of it boring as the Libyan desert. The Conclusion:
For the reasons I have set out above, I dismiss the LIA’s claim that the Disputed Trades
were the result of undue influence exercised over it by Goldman Sachs:
a. I find that the main motivation behind the offer of the Goldman Sachs internship to
Haitem Zarti was Goldman Sachs’ belief that he might be chosen to lead the LIA’s
new office in London and it would be beneficial for Goldman Sachs’ future business
prospects with the LIA for them to establish a good working relationship with him
at an early stage. I find that Mr Mustafa Zarti was keen for his younger brother to
work as an intern, though there is no evidence as to why he thought this was
important. Although the offer of the internship may have contributed to a friendly
and productive atmosphere during the negotiation of the April Trades, it did not
have a material influence on the decision of Mr Zarti and the LIA to enter into the
b. I find that there was no protected relationship of trust and confidence between the
LIA and Goldman Sachs. Their relationship did not go beyond the normal cordial
and mutually beneficial relationship that grows up between a bank and a client.
Goldman Sachs did not become a trusted adviser or a ‘man of affairs’ for the LIA.
c. There was nothing about the Disputed Trades that would raise a presumption, if
such a protected relationship did exist, that they were the result of undue influence.
I find that there are no grounds for concluding that the level of profits earned by
Goldman Sachs on the Disputed Trades was excessive given the nature of the trades
and the work that had gone in to winning them. Although the Disputed Trades may
be regarded as unsuitable for a SWF, there were other reasons why the LIA wanted
to enter into them and, if they were unsuitable, they were no different from many
other investments that the LIA made over the period in that regard.
428. It follows from my conclusions on the undue influence claim that the claim to set aside the Disputed Trades on the grounds that they were unconscionable bargains must also fail.
– Libyan Investment Authority v. Goldman Sachs Int’l., 2016 EWHC 2530 ___, HC-2014-000197, at 427 – 428 (HC, London, Oct. 14, 2016).
Yeah. Nothing to see here. Some kid just wanted an internship or something. $1.2 Billion. These are not the sovereign funds you’re looking for. Move along.
The LIA is still nominally based in Tripoli. Why, then, is the money in London? Who is John Galt? Who cares? Good for Goldman. Everyone likes a winner.
The LIA has appealed the HC’s Ruling. However, the appeal is pretty much DOA. And that’s the way it is. All is right in the world. Goldman is free to concentrate on “diversity” in immigration and other weighty banking matters. The people of Libya are free to dodge the bullets of their weak new government and various bands of insurgents. And I’m free to move on from this story. Case closed.