Libya Oil Ministry welcomes the arrest of NOC officials

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Libya LibyaThe Libyan Attorney General and Public Prosecution Office announced Tuesday that it had ordered the arrest of a National Oil Corporation board member (NOC). In addition, the Director of the Department of Occupational Safety and Security and Health and the work of the Administrative Affairs Unit in the Security, Safety and Occupational Health Department chief at Akakus Oil Operations Company was also arrested in previous days.

The Tripoli-based Attorney General said the arrest was based on information provided by the Intelligence Service, which raised several doubts abouts. The three are accused of obtaining an unlawful benefit, causing severe damage to public funds, and misusing the office’s powers. The Public Prosecution ordered their pretrial detention pending the case and until the completion of the investigation procedures.

The Attorney General/ Public Prosecutor did not name the NOC board member, but Libyan media widely circulated his name following a well-publicized arrest on 30 October. Meanwhile, Oil Minister Mohamed Aoun proactively commented on the arrest in a video clip posted on the Ministry’s social media page. However, he, too, did not mention the arrested NOC board member by name.

However, he said that the Ministry is with the enforcement of laws and the measures taken to establish justice, integrity and protect the wealth of the Libyan state. Aoun added that the Ministry of Oil and Gas is confident that all parties follow the required rules and legal procedures. According to Aoun, the Ministry is always committed to applying the law as it is the right path for all bodies and institutions operating in the Libyan state.

The minister concluded that the Ministry is confident that everyone accused will have the right to defend himself by legal means and as specified by the legislation in force. He stressed that the Ministry is working to enforce the laws and decisions regulating the work of the oil sector and its adherence and permanent readiness to maintain the proper conduct and safety of the oil sector’s procedures and the protection of public funds, and governance and transparency in the work of the industry.

There is an ongoing spat between the Libyan Oil Ministry and NOC, as the former tries to impose its political will on the latter. At the same time, the NOC has found it difficult operating in the new environment after decades of working without the oversight of a Ministry.

On a personal level, Aoun has now been suspended and referred for administrative investigation by NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla twice. Prime Minister Abd Alhamid Aldabaiba had to intervene. Strictly speaking, Sanalla is still broken by Aoun, but he is still working and running the NOC. That includes the meeting of numerous foreign diplomats and representatives.

This arrest could be seen through the Aoun-Sanalla spat. But, on the other hand, it could be a standalone anti-corruption investigation investigated by the Intelligence Service. Either way, if the accusations stand, it would be a landmark in anti-corruption activity in Libya, and the NOC board member would be one of the most prominent positions to be charged.

According to the Libya Herald, it would also indicate that Libya’s intelligence services are up and running a decade after the 2011 revolution that ended the Qaddafi regime. That would be a good sign that Libyan state institutions are returning.

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