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"Get Out Of My Country" Libyan Sovereign Wealth Fund "Screwed" By Goldman

You can mess with Greece with only modest repercussions, but, as Bloomberg reports, mess with Libya and trouble comes fast. In a strangely familiar case of deja vu, Libya’s sovereign wealth fund (LIA) sued Goldman Sachs over money-losing investments made in 2008, saying the bank exploited the LIA’s inexperience to sell risky derivatives. An LIA executive cursed at the Goldman bankers that they had "screwed" him and threatened "get out of my country," according to witness statements, adding that "he would come after their families."

As Bloomberg reports,

The $60 billion Libya Investment Authority fund, established under former Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi, grew to be Africa’s second-largest sovereign wealth fund by the time he was deposed and killed in 2011. Some of the firm’s investments proved disastrous, leading to attempts to restructure deals, regulatory investigations and multi-billion dollar lawsuits.

 

Libya’s sovereign wealth fund sued Goldman Sachs over money-losing investments made in 2008, saying the bank exploited the LIA’s inexperience to sell risky derivatives. The case is the largest of dozens of U.K. lawsuits against multiple lenders where bank clients from German water providers to Italian regions say they were sold unsuitable financial products.

 

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Former LIA executive Mustafa Zarti was so angry about bad investments that he cursed at the two bankers, Youssef Kabbaj and Nick Pentreath, in English and Arabic - telling them the lender had “screwed” the sovereign wealth fund, according to the LIA’s evidence at a London court hearing yesterday - after questioning some of the fund’s 2008 trades with Goldman, according to Catherine McDougall, a lawyer at a London law firm who was temporarily assigned to the LIA at the time.

 

“Get out of my country,” McDougall recalled Zarti as saying in a witness statement she prepared for the LIA in a $1 billion lawsuit against Goldman. The bankers gathered their things and left quickly, she said.

 

Zarti “launched into a very angry tirade, saying that he had a bad side as well as a good side and that he could come after their families,” McDougall said in the statement.

 

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This week’s hearing is the first in the case that was filed in January. The LIA asked to schedule the lawsuit for a 30-day trial in January 2016.

 

Judge Vivien Rose today ordered Goldman to pay 200,000 pounds ($322,000) of the LIA’s legal fees from the bank’s bid to have the case thrown out. Goldman abandoned the attempt in August.

 

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“It was readily apparent to me that Goldman had unfairly taken advantage of the L.I.A.’s lack of financial sophistication and the trust and confidence that the various members of the L.I.A. had reposed in them and had sold the L.I.A. $1 billion worth of derivative products that the L.I.A. did not properly understand,”

 

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Roger Masefield, a lawyer for the LIA, told the judge at the hearing that the fund didn’t understand that it was investing in derivatives instead of shares, and wasn’t aware it was in a position to negotiate better terms for the trades.

 

“Their trust was misplaced,” he said.

 

The New York-based bank also said in its court documents that the lawsuit is a “paradigm of buyer’s remorse.”

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