Libya's attorney general's office says it has jailed several bankers employed by Tripoli-based Al-Yaqeen Bank as well as customs officials at the Libyan-Tunisian Ras Jadair border crossing for their involvement in letter of credit (L/C) frauds amounting to the equivalent of at least US$250 million.

Seventeen customs guard officers, including the Ras Jadair customs centre's head and the heads of the audit and procedures department, were found to have created forged customs documents associated with L/Cs processed at the Libyan bank.

Forged documents

The customs officers and bankers were found to have forged documents falsely suggesting that seven commercial enterprises had imported goods into the country.

While this was not the case, the documentation allowed senior executives in those enterprises to gain access to foreign exchange amounting to the equivalent of around US$19 million. They also profited from engaging in foreign exchange trading in the parallel market.

FIU success

The alleged fraud was uncovered by the Financial Information Unit, Libya's recently established financial intelligence unit (FIU).

Its investigators discovered that senior bank officials at Al Yaqeen were involved in facilitating unlawful revenues for the proprietors of 49 companies.

Jailed bankers

Bankers found guilty and jailed in this case include Al Yaqeen's chairman, his deputy, and seven bankers with responsibilities for L/C operations and compliance.

The head of the Ras Jadeer customs centre and six other customs officials have also been sentenced to jail terms.

This article represents the views of the author and not necessarily those of the ICC or Coastline Solutions.