The governor of Libya’s central bank on Friday denied receiving roughly $20 billion in assets that were held overseas by Muammar Qaddafi’s regime and frozen during the conflict that ousted him.
“We have not received” the funds, central bank governor al-Seddiq Omar al-Kabir told reporters when asked to confirm whether Libya had received the money as announced by Foreign Minister Ashur bin Khayyal on Tuesday.
“As the central bank we never received the 20 billion,” (16 billion euros) he said.
On Tuesday, Khayyal said Libya’s new government had received around $20 billion of previously frozen assets from the United States, France and other European states.
“I don’t have the exact figure, but I know that the first tranche is approximately $20 billion,” Khayyal said at a press conference.
When asked by AFP if Libya had received these funds, Khayyal said: “Yes, it has been received.”
An estimated $150 billion of Libya’s overseas assets were frozen following U.N. Security Council sanctions against Qaddafi’s regime when the conflict erupted last year.
Qaddafi was ousted and then killed in the bloody conflict that ended with his death on Oct. 20.
In December, the Security Council lifted sanctions on Libya’s central bank and a key investment bank, freeing tens of billions of dollars to ease a post-Qaddafi cash crunch in the North African country.
Shortly afterwards, the U.S. said it would unblock more than $30 billion of assets held by the Central Bank of Libya and its subsidiary, the Libyan Foreign Bank.
Britain pledged to release around 6.5 billion pounds ($10 billion).
Libya’s rulers, confronted with a challenging economic climate, have stepped up calls for the assets to be released so they can pay salaries and fund key public services.
On Friday, Kabir said Libya needed these funds which were largely held as “liquid assets” abroad.