Belgium’s Prince Laurent accused of blackmailing Libyan official
Photo Credit To Virginie Lefour/Belga

Belgium’s Prince Laurent accused of blackmailing Libyan official

The Chairman of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), Ali Mahmoud Hassan, has accused Belgium’s Prince Laurent of blackmailing him in a failed attempt to recover €50 million Laurent claims he is owed by the Libyan Ministry for Agriculture.

In a statement, Hassan claimed that Laurent “used his influence and directed his country’s authorities to issue an order to arrest me,” adding that neither he nor the LIA had anything to do “with the alleged debts.”

Hassan also drew attention to the “damage he and his family had suffered from these threats, and the subsequent measures taken by the Belgian authorities that came in the context of implementing the threats.”

The origin of this story lies in a multimillion euro project agreed in 2008 between Laurent and the Libyan authorities with the goal of reforesting desertified regions of inland Libya. The project collapsed with the outbreak of the Libyan civil war in 2011.

Laurent claims to still be owed €50 million for the project, and has repeatedly suggested this fee was personally promised to him by Muammar Gaddafi, Libya’s former leader.

Over the last decade, Laurent has put enormous pressure on the Belgian Government to acquire this money on his behalf. In 2021, Belgium submitted an official request, which was eventually rejected, to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions committee to grant Prince Laurent access to some of €15 billion of Libya’s sovereign wealth currently frozen in Euroclear, a Brussels-based bank, given that Libya has been under international sanctions since 2011.