Libyan Wealth Fund Seeks Damages in International Court

Posted by Gerald Wrona.

Interesting. That is one word to describe the NY Times report on the pre-trial proceedings of the Libyan Investment Authority’s (LIA) suit against Goldman Sachs (Anderson). Acting as broker-dealer to the sovereign wealth fund, Goldman established a relationship with the fund’s managers in 2007. A year later, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was visiting Moammar Gadhafi in Libya’s capital to devise a “trade and investment agreement . . . which will allow the improvement of the climate for investment.” (Labbott). Shortly after that promising convention between the two political heads, Goldman and the Authority finalized the agreement and the bank sold derivative products totaling $1 billion to the LIA. Then the housing market “opened its mouth” and out came the demon of the subprime mortgage crisis.

Understandably, the LIA felt exploited. They bit the bullet. Their lawyers came to the London High Court armed with notions that those managing the sovereign wealth fund were ineffectual in understanding the investments presented to them by Goldman. To add insult to insult, they further asserted that the fund administrators were altered in their judgment by Goldman representatives’ leadership role in incidents allegedly involving the recreational consumption of alcohol and visits paid to what may have been brothels, or some other manufacturer of night entertainment, though a witness statement does not specify. Considering that it would never have been in Goldman’s interest to spend more time carousing then working on the deal with the authority, it is highly unlikely that the time spent in leisure outweighed the hours dedicated to the investigation of the necessary facts of the deal.

Though it is worth noting that Goldman has already been ousted for luring investors into crummy deals and then betting against those deals to increase revenue. This is how Goldman actually made money off the subprime mortgage crisis (Cohan).

Will evidence be disclosed that suggests Goldman dealt with the LIA in a similar way? It’s impossible to know. I believe the judge will find that the heart of the matter is whether Goldman conducted due diligence in their dealing with the LIA. For that reason, Robert Miles, one of the attorney’s representing Goldman, would do well to look to the Securities Act of 1933 for support. It states: “If a Broker Dealer conducts reasonable due diligence on a security and passes the information on to the buyer before a transaction, the Broker cannot be held liable for non-disclosure of information that was not found during the investigation.”  Securities Act of 1933, SEC §§ 38-1-28 (SEC 1933).

The trial is expected to start next year.

Gerald is a Business Administration and MIT major at Montclair State University, class of 2017.