May 20, 2016 / 5:27 PM / 2 years ago

Businessman told to disclose more records in Libya-SocGen case

LONDON, May 20 (Reuters) - A Libyan businessman at the centre of a dispute between Libya’s $67 billion sovereign wealth fund and French bank Societe Generale must disclose additional phone and banking records, a High Court judge in London ruled on Friday.

The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) is pursuing SocGen for some $2.1 billion in relation to a series of disputed trades, including derivatives, entered into between 2007 and 2009, before Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was ousted as Libyan leader.

The LIA says SocGen paid at least $58.5 million to a Panamanian-registered company called Lenaida, controlled at the time by Libyan businessman Walid Giahmi.

The LIA alleges that the payments were made as part of a “fraudulent and corrupt scheme”, involving “the bribery and/or intimidation ... of senior LIA employees” and aimed at influencing the LIA’s decision to enter the disputed transactions.

A spokesman for Societe Generale said the company had no immediate comment. Giahmi’s representatives have not responded to repeated requests for comment on the case. Lenaida has no representation and could not be contacted.

The court is examining connections between Giahmi and Gaddafi’s son Saif, and whether these had any bearing on the LIA’s decision to make the trades. Giahmi’s lawyers do not dispute that the two were acquainted.

At a two-day pre-trial hearing that ended on Friday, Justice Stephen Phillips ruled in favour of the LIA’s requests for further disclosure by Giahmi to shed light on the nature of the alleged relationship.

In court filings seen by Reuters, lawyers for Giahmi said he had not disclosed records of phone calls with Saif where they were unrelated to business dealings, because his acquaintance with Saif was not in issue.

But Justice Phillips said a full disclosure of phone calls and texts was necessary: the more personal the content, the closer the connection that might be established as a result.

The LIA had also requested further disclosure of Giahmi’s bank and credit card statements, arguing the information would shed more light on where the Lenaida payments went.

Judge Phillips granted this, saying that full disclosure of Giahmi’s financial records was “plainly relevant and proportionate”, given the scope of the allegations against him and his defence.

The trial is currently scheduled to start in January 2017. (Reporting by Claire Milhench; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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