The Libyan authorities have accused 23 companies located across the world of smuggling millions of euro out of Libya.

Libya's Audit Bureau says the companies made extensive use of letters of credit (L/Cs) in their smuggling operations.

The companies, some based in Libya and some abroad, have now been banned from doing business in Libya.


The Audit Bureau alleges that the money was being smuggled out through Libyan companies acting as importers. They opened L/Cs in favour of foreign companies acting as exporters.

According to the bureau, once the money in hard currency was approved by the Central Bank of Libya and transferred via L/Cs out of Libya, no goods were ever delivered to the North African country.

Ghost shipments

Empty containers or containers loaded with worthless goods costing a fraction of the L/C values were shipped to Libya so that documentation could be shown to release funds under the L/Cs.

The banned foreign companies are domiciled in Hong Kong, Malta, Switzerland, Tunisia and the UAE.

Worthless cargoes

Out of 10 Libyan companies on the list, nine had imported nothing despite having L/Cs valued at EUR 37 million.

The remaining Libyan company on the list had imported just EUR 80,000 worth of goods while it was issued with an L/C to import EUR 8 million of goods.

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