Libya’s rebel council said it would review all contracts, including lucrative oil deals, signed under Muammar Gaddafi’s government were it to come to power and axe any where it found signs of corruption.
Speaking in Paris after rebel chief Mahmoud Jibril and his defence attache met French officials including President Nicolas Sarkozy, Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam also told reporters the rebels had received their first funds pledged internationally — a $100-million (62.3 million pound) loan from Qatar.
“With regards to the future, contracts agreed by Libya will be put under review and if there appears to be proof of commissions or financial corruption we will consider ourselves free from them,” Shammam told reporters.
Companies with contracts in Libya include oil companies Total, Eni, BP Plc and Conocophillips, and some Turkish and Brazilian construction firms, reports Reuters.
Officials in the rebel leadership have previously played down the likelihood that they will tear up Libya’s revenue sharing agreements with foreign oil majors, saying they will respect contracts signed by the National Oil Company (NOC).
“Of course, (it includes) oil (contracts),” Shammam told Reuters. “If people steal your money are you going to let them get away with it?”
He said if companies were found to have won their contracts illegally, they would be given the option to pay back “funds to the Libyan people.”
He also said: “We will give priority to the countries that were on our side. We will not make equal those who helped us and those who sat with their arms crossed watching. This is a clear message to those who still do not support us and do not recognise us.”
QATARI LOAN ARRIVES
The rebels, who urgently need between $2-$3 billion to cover salaries and other needs, have won promises of about $1.1 billion in financial assistance from its Western and Arab supporters for their bid to wrest power from Gaddafi, but few pledges have come through.
Libya’s economy relies on oil exports and the rebels have struggled to make ends meet as damage to energy infrastructure caused by the civil war has brought production to a halt in what used to be a major OPEC oil producer in North Africa.
Shammam said he hoped the rebels would receive all these funds by the start of the holy month of Ramadan in August. It received $100 million from Qatar on Monday backed by a guarantee of $800 million sitting in Qatari banks belonging to the Libyan sovereign wealth fund, Shammam said.
A multi-nation contact group, which includes Western and Arab countries as well as organisations such as the United Nations, will meet again on July 15 in Turkey to discuss the latest financial, political and military situation.
More than 90 days into a NATO bombing campaign, Gaddafi is refusing to relinquish power, leaving Western and Arab states counting on a combination of rebel advances on Tripoli and an uprising in the city itself to dislodge him.
However, Shammam, who last week had suggested the rebels could accept Gaddafi staying in Libya were he to step down, said this was no longer an option.
“After the ICC decision it seems that all the initiatives are at an impasse … it seems the possibility for contact with a third party has completely disappeared and the door has closed,” he said.
The Hague-based ICC issued warrants on Monday for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi on charges of crimes against humanity for their role in the killing of civilian protesters.