A Goldman Sachs banker who is said to have forged close links with a Libyan investment fund set up during the Gaddafi era feared for his life when it emerged that trades the bank had executed for the fund had turned sour, according to evidence provided to the high court.
One of the first witnesses being called to support the Libyan Investment Authority’s $1.2bn (£850m) claim against the Wall Street bank, alleges that Youssef Kabbaj had to flee Libya for Malta after a “highly charged” meeting at the fund in April 2008.
In his witness statement, Abdulfatah Enaami, who was at the LIA until the end of June 2012, said Kabbaj and a colleague left the country after a meeting when losses on the nine disputed trades at the centre of the trade were discovered.
Kabbaj and his closeness to the Libyans is one of the themes being explored by the fund as it attempts to recoup its losses from nine trades it conducted with Goldman Sachs between January and April 2008. Goldman is defending the lawsuit, being heard before Mrs Justice Rose, arguing that it is a case of buyers’ remorse and that Kabbaj was not able to influence decisions by the LIA.
Enaami’s witness statement said “Youssef was very afraid for his life” and that cut short a dinner because Kabbaj told him a “foreign intelligence agency” had been called to take him to Malta. At the time of the trades turning sour, “it was beginning to occur to me that Goldman Sachs may have taken advantage of the LIA, but we did not fully recognise this yet, probably because we didn’t want to believe it and certainly not that our friend Youssef was at the heart of it”.
Under questioning by Goldman’s QC, Robert Miles, Enaami said he had been paid $100,000 in July 2006 for writing reports on the economy by Walid Giahmi, who is being accused by the LIA of paying bribes in a separate case.
Enaami is the second witness called by he LIA. The statement of the first, Ali Jalal Baruni, recalled that in one meeting he had felt inundated by presentations from Goldman Sachs bankers.
“I felt almost under attack as different Goldman Sachs teams and products were presented to me, one after the other and almost relentlessly, without me being given the opportunity to ask questions or reflect on them,” said Baruni, who said he resigned from a consultancy position at the LIA in September 2008 after the LIA invested in a Goldman fund.
Giving evidence, Enaami said it was “something like a swarm”. He was questioned about his assertions that officials at the LIA were not sophisticated enough to be investing with Goldman.
The court has previously been told that Kabbaj is not being called to give evidence under the terms of a $4.5m bonus settlement with the bank. The case is expected to continue until the end of July.
This article was written by Jill Treanor, for theguardian.com on Thursday 16th June 2016 18.45 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010