Libyan funds

An investigative report broadcast on the Estonian television program "Eyewitness" revealed that millions of euros belonging to the Libyan state, which were held in the Central Bank of Libya branch in Benghazi, ended up being laundered and used in Estonia.

The report indicated that approximately 80 million euros of the bank's funds were compromised by water damage, rendering them unsuitable for customary expenditure, with the majority of usable funds being directed towards waging wars.

Mattis Maeker, the director of the anti-money laundering office in Estonia, stated, "It is probable that funds which entered Estonia were damaged in the CBL Benghazi branch due to flooding in the vaults."

Meanwhile, Raivo Roosve, the head of the cash and infrastructure department at the Bank of Estonia, confirmed that some of these damaged banknotes made their way to Estonia and required "literal and figurative" laundering. He also mentioned that the water that flooded the money was likely sewage.

Since 2014, Libyan media outlets have been questioning the fate of funds preserved in the CBL branch in Benghazi after militias affiliated with warlord Khalifa Haftar seized control of the bank's HQ following the withdrawal of Benghazi's Shura Council fighters.

At the time, Ali Al-Hibri, governor of the parallel Bayda-based Central Bank, refuted claims of Haftar's capture of the bank's funds. He stressed that the bank's vaults were underground and inundated with sewage water, resulting in a water level 110 cm above the vaults.

The Estonian report noted the lack of an official announcement about the bank robbery by the Libyan state. "We also tried to communicate with them, but we didn't receive any response," Maeker said in surprise.

According to a previous UN report, armed groups threatened bank employees before absconding with over 639 million Libyan dinars, more than 159 million euros, and 1.9 million US dollars, in addition to 5,869 silver coins, totalling nearly 500 million euros at that time.