Hogan Lovells advises Libya’s NTC on release of frozen cash

Hogan Lovells advised representatives of the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) on its successful bid to have 1.86bn Libyan dinar held in the UK by printer De La Rue released and flown back to the country.

The bank notes were frozen as a result of sanctions imposed by the United Nations in February and had been impounded in the UK since.  

Partner Jeremy Brittenden led the team advising the NTC alongside partner Louise Lamb and of counsel Charles Brasted alongside Washington DC partners Jeanne Archibald and Aleksandar Dukic.

The money was flown back to Libya by the RAF overnight, with enough cash – 200 million bank notes – to fill  several planes.

The team advised on a pro-bono basis on contractual, constitutional and sanctions law and regulation, enabling the bank notes to be released to a branch of the Central Bank of Libya and into the control of the NTC.

4 Stone Buildings’ Jonathan Crow QC was instructed by the firm to assist on a pro-bono basis.

The team of lawyers based in London started working in early June after being instructed by Tarek Eltumi, the NTC’s designated representative, to deal with the matter.

The collapse of the Gaddafi regime resulted in a run on the Central Bank of Libya, exhausting its reserve of notes. This meant that Libyan citizens could no longer withdraw money to pay for basic necessities such as food, power, water and medical services. The bank notes will be used by the Central Bank of Libya to replenish banks throughout the country.

According to Brittenden, who was in Benghazi earlier this week: “The UK Government’s decision to recognise the NTC and unfreeze assets for humanitarian purposes has acted as an important precedent for other countries to do the same.” 

Yesterday, The Lawyer revealed that Stephenson Harwood secured a High Court order for the British Arab Commercial Bank (BACB) allowing it to act legally on the instructions of the NTC.

In that matter the NTC was represented by Clyde & Co partner Tim Foley (31 August 2011).