Libyan fund: 5 countries released Gaddafi’s frozen money

Libyan President Moamer Kadhafi waves upon arrival at the hotel at Margarita Island, Nueva Esparta state, northwestern Venezuela, on September 25, 2009. The 2nd Africa-South America Summit (ASA), to be held in Margarita, is aimed at boosting the cooperation of the participant countries, facing the food, financial, economic and environmental crisis, and strengthening agreements and plans of action started in 2006 at the 1st Summit, held in Abuja, Niger. AFP PHOTO/Juan BARRETO (Photo credit should read JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)

Libya’s sovereign wealth fund said five EU countries paid out money from frozen accounts in Europe that once belonged to Muammar Gaddafi, despite international sanctions.

Questions about mystery payments from the Libyan dictator’s supposedly frozen billions in Europe have already become a hot political issue in Belgium, because significant sums flowed out of accounts in Brussels.

But the Libyan Investment Authority’s announcement is the first time an official state body has said that countries other than Belgium may also have wrongly implemented the U.N.’s 2011 sanctions regime against Libya, and raises more questions about how much of Libya’s wealth has been transferred to unknown recipients since 2011.

Belgium defends payments of money from LIA’s frozen accounts by saying that interest accumulated on frozen funds is not covered by sanctions. A U.N.-backed panel of experts disagrees, however, and concluded in September that such payments were illegal and could be contributing to instability in the country.

The LIA said in an emailed statement to POLITICO that Belgium’s government was not alone in taking advantage of a loophole by paying out the interest earned on the frozen money.