The Libyan Investment Authority has launched an arbitration proceeding against Belgium at the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, affiliated to the World Bank, against the backdrop of a Brussels court’s ruling last July to confiscate about 15 billion euros of Libyan assets as part of a dispute with Belgian Prince Laurent.

According to The National newspaper, Laurent, who was until recently an heir to the throne of Belgium, is seeking to obtain an amount of 67 million euros from Libyan funds after they were frozen in exchange for projects implemented by the Global Fund for Sustainable Development aimed at reforesting the desert areas in Libya.

International arbitration lawyer William Kirtley, in a statement to The National newspaper, was surprised that a state-linked institution would seek arbitration, explaining that such institutions are most vulnerable to attack in international arbitration.

Kirtley added that the arbitration process is similar to a lawsuit that takes about three years, pointing out that the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) is likely looking for more impartial courts than the Brussels courts, in which they have lost confidence.

The dispute between LIA and the Belgian Prince dates back to 2008 when the contract was signed for the first time between the General Secretariat for Development and Libya, before it halted in 2011, and Prince Laurent had been seeking 37 million euros in addition to interest since then - and the figure has now reached 67 million euros and is still increasing.

The National newspaper said that it contacted the Libyan Investment Authority and the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in addition to lawyers for both parties, but they either refused to comment or did not respond.