Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Muslim Brotherhood Grip’s on Libyan Financial Institutions: The Case of Mustapha Al-Manea

Mustapha al-Manea, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and legal adviser to the Central Bank of Libya, was sent by the GNA to represent Libya at the International Financial Action Task Force (FATF) forum in Orlando this month. 

Al Marsad investigates the activities of Mustapha al-Manea, Fathi Aqoub, Tarek Yousef Megarief and others and the increasing web of influence and domination exerted by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters on Libya’s financial institutions.

[Libya, 28 June 2019] – The Maghreb Confidential and Africa Intelligence, two leading news agencies covering North Africa, revealed that the Tripoli regime of the Government of National Accord (GNA) has recently dispatched the Muslim Brotherhood member and Legal Adviser to the Central Bank of Libya (CBL), Mustapha al-Manea, to represent Libya at the International Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Al Marsad details the increasing web of domination exerted by the Muslim Brotherhood on Libya’s financial institutions.

The FATF forum is concerned with setting standards and promoting effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system, which is why the presence of Mustapha a-Manea is puzzling.

The Tripoli Government attended the FATF forum which was held in Orlando, Florida during 16–21 June, in an attempt to improve its tarnished image on issues relating to funding terrorism. The news platform, Maghreb Confidential, wrote on Thursday that Mustapha al-Manea: “took advantage of the FATF symposium to give assurances in good faith on combating the financing of terrorism”, at a time the Tripoli authorities—and Central Bank of Libya Governor, Siddik al-Kabir—want to show their activism on this issue, while their opponent Khalifa Haftar accuses them of funding terrorist militias to defend Tripoli.

On the 20th of February 2018 FATF removed Libya from the Watch List of states whose ability to “apply the standards and obligations to combat money laundering and terrorist financing offences” was in doubt. FATF said that Libya now is complying “with all the requirements and obligations to combat money laundering and terrorist financing crimes according to the international standards which positively reflects the reputation of the Libyan state and enhances the confidence of international financial and economic institutions with in its financial and banking institutions.”

Given this shift by FATF, Mustapha al-Manea exploited the event to provide assurances to the delegations participating at the international forum on the intention of the Tripoli GNA to combat terror financing.

However, al-Manea, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), is also one of the leading figures of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, which has been accused of controlling the CBL and infiltrating its strategic and highly sensitive dossiers for years. Controlling the LIA and the CBL is critical to the Muslim Brotherhood since both sovereign institutions run and manage the oil-rich country’s assets and wealth funds, effectively empowering the transnational agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, particularly at a time the US President Donald Trump threatened again in May 3 3“to classify the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.”

The European media platform wrote that Mustapha al-Manea was accompanied on this trip by Osama Haider, who is the representative of the CBL and is the office manager of the outgoing CBL Governor, Siddik al-Kabir.

With a questionable curriculum vitae, according to some sources, Haider was appointed to his position with less than two years work experience. The office manager of the CBL absconded from the General Authority for Endowments and Islamic Affairs, where he was an apprenticed solicitor, to the most important financial institution in the country.

Haider is also accused of being placed in this position by the Nawasi Brigade, one of the most heavily armed militias and among the largest armed military groups in Tripoli led by the jihadist, Mustapha Gaddour. Gaddour was accused by Mohamed Ali bin Yousef, general manager at Libyan Foreign Bank, of threatening to kill him.

Mustapha al-Manea’s Background

Following a meeting held by the President of the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord last 23 February, in his capacity as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Tripoli-based Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), prior to his departure to Egypt to participate in the EU-League of Arab States (LAS) summit in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, the Tripoli-based LIA Board decided to set up a committee to liaise with the Attorney General’s office. This was to enable the LIA’s management to function normally during the detention of its Chairman, Ali Mohamed.

Decree No. 2 of 2019 issued by the Tripoli-based LIA Board of Trustees provides for the formation of a committee headed by the Minister of Planning, Taher al-Jahmi, and the membership of five others to reach out to the Attorney-General Office and the legal office assigned by the management of the LIA to explore the situation and developments facing the LIA management.

Furthermore, Decree No. 1 of 2019 appointed Yousef al-Mabrouk, Director of Sarraj’s Presidential Council Office, as Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Libyan Investment Authority.

Under the same resolution, senior Muslim Brotherhood member Mustapha al-Manea was appointed as a member of the Board of Directors of the Libyan Investment Corporation through nomination and pressure exerted by the CBL Governor, Siddik al-Kabir. Before the imposed appointment, al-Manea had not assumed any official post at the LIA. It is noteworthy to mention here, that al-Manea worked as a special advisor to al-Kabir, according to sources from inside the sovereign fund establishment.

From the Muslim Brotherhood to the Central Bank of Libya, al-Manea has been elevated to his new senior position at Libya’s sovereign fund institution, and this completes the domination, by the Muslim Brotherhood, of top state institutions of the country.

Before the appointment of Mustapha al-Manea, however, figures and media organisations loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood launched a defamation campaign against Siddik al-Kabir in January and February this year, blaming his mismanagement of the CBL as the main cause behind a series of bottlenecks in the country, citing, in this regard, the announcement of the continued suspension of households’ stipend of five hundred LYD.

Influential leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood exert their influence on Libya’s economy

For the first time in years, in July 2018, the leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, Fathi Agoub, publicly spoke on behalf of the management of the Tripoli Central Bank of Libya (CBL) in his capacity as secretary of the CBL and as an administrator in its Board of Trustees at a press conference to talk about the latest developments of the financial and security crisis in the country.

Fathi Agoub was born in 1971 in Benghazi. He was on the wanted list by the security authorities of the former regime. Official records categorized Agoub as a Muslim Brotherhood activist. His security record, issued by the former Internal Security Service, indicated that he was active in Cairo according to the confessions of several MB detainees during the Gaddafi era, and among them was Abdulla Shamiyyah, former Minister of Education at the post-Gaddafi National Transitional Council’s Executive Office.

The CHA records refer to an old connection with the Islamic Gathering, led by Mustapha al-Trabelsi, an Islamist group that the incumbent member of the Presidential Council, Mohamed Ammari Zayed had been affiliated with, according to Salem al-Maghrebi, a member of the Islamic Gathering.

Agoub is considered one of the most active members of the MB and its leadership as well as in the Shura councils, and the Justice and Construction Party, which is the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood led by Mohammed Sawan. The group periodically contributes many Op-Eds and articles on political issues through its official website, suggesting the nature of the relationship between the CBL and the Muslim Brotherhood and the influence of the latter over the Bank, even if parties of the two entities deny the existence of such relationship or use media exchange in the public domain to masquerade the bonds that tie them.

Senior Muslim Brotherhood figures control the nodes of the CBL

The General Rapporteur of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood is the Swiss Libyan, Suleiman Abdel Gader. Born in 1966, he belongs to the younger generation of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood movement that brought the group back to life between 2009 and 2012. Like other MBs, he focused on controlling another equally important institution that is relevant the Central Bank of Libya, the Institute of Banking Studies (IBS) in Tripoli. Siddik al-Kabir appointed Suleiman Abdel Gader as IBS managing director although he is not an expert in the financial or banking sector.

He studied mechanical engineering and worked in several companies in the Swiss city of Zurich. Furthermore, Abdel Gader chaired the Muslim Association of Switzerland in addition to his activities as a General Rapporteur of Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood. He played a prominent role in the first Muslim Brotherhood conference held in Benghazi at the end of 2011, which attended by the leaders of the group, notably Mohammed Sawan, Abdul Razzaq al-Aradi, Bashir al-Kabti, Ahmad al-Souki and others.