Libya News

Libya's NOC says it will withhold funds from central bank

TUNIS, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Sunday that Central Bank of Libya (CBL) had inaccurately reported energy revenue, adding it would temporarily stop transfers of sales income to the bank’s account.

In a statement, NOC said it would not resume transfers of oil revenue to CBL until there was a comprehensive political settlement in Libya and until the bank was transparent about how it had distributed oil revenue in past years.

Until then, it will keep the money in the Libyan Foreign Bank, it said.

CBL was not immediately available for comment.

Libya has been split in recent years between warring western and eastern factions, with most state institutions divided between rival administrations.

However, international agreements have ensured that NOC has remained the country’s only legitimate oil producer and that all export revenues have flowed through CBL to finance the public sector across front lines.

Both NOC and CBL are based in Tripoli, home to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). In June it pushed back a 14-month offensive by Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) to capture the city.

In January the LNA began an eight-month blockade of oil exports that almost entirely shut down Libyan production and exports before a political deal was reached to restart.

Since then, the United Nations has brokered a ceasefire between the GNA and LNA and has instituted political talks that have agreed on a roadmap to elections next year.

The U.N. process also involves an economic track that includes an ongoing audit of the CBL with a goal of unifying its western and eastern branches.

Many Libyans remain sceptical that the peacemaking will work given the fractured nature of both sides in the conflict and the involvement of outside powers.

Last week, GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj changed the leadership of the Libyan Foreign Bank and some board members of the Libyan Investment Authority, the state sovereign wealth fun.

Reporting by Angus McDowall; editing by Diane Craft