Ten days ago, when we first looked at the Libyan investment authority (its sovereign wealth fund), we asked “Which US Banks Are Managing Billions For The $32 Billion Libyan Sovereign Wealth Fund?” Based on Wikileaks data, it was disclosed that various US banks manage billions for the country which has just seen $30 billion of its assets largely frozen (although this is merely half of its total deposits). Obviously, we had “some” banks in mind, most of the variety whose directors believe they are above the law and can share inside information with criminal intent with utter disdain for the law. Now, courtesy of Marcus Baram of the Huffington Post we find that the usual suspects are, naturally, all here: among the key banks that serve as advisors and asset managers are Goldman Sachs (and not just anyone, but Jim “Revolutions are Bullish” O’Neill’s GSAM, Citi and JP Morgan. The only question now is how long before we get some sort of public statement out of the likes of Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon: on the 22nd we said: “perhaps it is time for the US banks who manage billions in capital for the LIA, to step up.” Now that they have been exposed by a third party, the CEOs should really take the hint before this escalates into a full blown PR disaster.
The secretive Libyan Investment Authority has reportedly invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Goldman Sachs Asset Management funds, including a loan fund designed to invest in new hedge funds set up by the Kuwait Investment Authority. Goldman Sachs already has a relationship with Libya — in 2008, Goldman was the first U.S. bank to get a contract with the country following the removal of sanctions, when it was hired by Libya’s central bank to provide information on its behalf to credit rating agencies. A spokesperson for Goldman Sachs did not return calls seeking comment.
The Libyan government, including LIA, has also banked with Citigroup, according to several sources familiar with the matter. A spokesperson for Citigroup declined to comment on the bank’s interactions with the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which is in charge of carrying out Obama’s order regarding Libyan assets.
JPMorgan Chase reportedly handles much of the LIA’s cash and some of the Libyan central bank’s reserves. The summer after then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Gaddafi in 2008, LIA gave “mandates to some of the international banks, including JPMorgan to manage their funds in the interbank money markets, according to Vanity Fair.
Banks are not the only entities: Washington DC darling private equity firm, and alleged CIA front organization, Carlyle is also among the collaborators:
Two years ago, the Carlyle Group’s co-founder and managing director, David Rubenstein, and Blackstone chief executive Steven Schwarzman traveled to the Libyan capital of Tripoli to help celebrate the wedding of Mustafa Zarti, the deputy director of the LIA, in a massive tent set up on the outskirts of the city, reported the Financial Times. And when Gaddafi’s son and longtime likely successor, Saif al-Islam, visited New York in November 2008, Schwarzman hosted a lunch for him at the Blackstone CEO’s Park Avenue apartment. The younger Gaddafi was also honored on that trip by Carlyle’s retired chairman, former defense secretary Frank Carlucci, who hosted a dinner for him in a private room at the City Club.
Yet while nobody really cares about Carlyle which for decades now has managed to remain behind the scenes, even though in many regards it is the Goldman Sachs of the Private Equity world, many do care about Goldman, especially following today’s latest disclosure of supposed gross and criminal abdication of fiduciary duty by a person at the very top. The last thing Goldman needs is to be disarming a PR minefield in which various bloggers and the less than mainstream media (certainly excluding those that have Goldman Sachs Asset Management ad banners on their pages) try to pin the tail on the Blankfein donkey of PR blunder following PR blunder.