November 3, 2014 / 3:15 PM / 5 years ago

Libya's central bank governor ensuring fund transfers despite kidnapping -bank

BENGHAZI, Libya, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Libya’s acting central bank governor is ensuring the transfer of funds to the country’s internationally-recognised parliament, the bank said, trying to allay concern that money was falling into the hands of armed groups who control the capital.

But in a sign of the anarchy gripping large parts of the country, three years after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, the Tripoli-based central bank said governor Ali Salem al-Hibri’s office manager had been kidnapped.

Ever since the establishment of a rival rebel government and parliament in Tripoli in August, there have been fears among oil traders and Libya’s trading partners over where its oil revenues have been ending up.

Traders have said some buyers of Libyan crude oil might halt their purchases if they believed their money was going to supporters of an armed group from the western city of Misrata which controls Tripoli and has taken control of some ministries.

The armed takeover of the capital had forced Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni to move to the east where the elected parliament is also based.

Hibri’s office head had nothing to do with transfers of central bank funds, and the bank governor “personally is responsible for transfers of funds from the central bank to the House of Representatives based in Tobruk, which is considered the legitimate body,” the central bank said in a statement issued on Sunday.

Oil revenues - essential to Libya’s economy - get booked on a foreign account of a Libyan state bank which transfers the money to the central bank for distribution to authorities.

The central bank has limited budget payments to salaries of civil servants and essential funds such as wheat subsidies, while the United Nations is trying to broker a settlement between the parties to the conflict.

Western powers and Libya’s Arab neighbours fear the confrontation between the two governments might drag the country towards civil war. (Reporting by Ulf Laessing and Feras Bosalum; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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