The legal battle between the Libyan Investment Authority and Goldman Sachs has been rather a he said-he said affair.
The former say the big bad bankers took advantage of the naïveté of the unsophisticated child-like people running a dictator’s sovereign wealth fund. The latter is outraged that anyone would be so ethnocentric as to say a Libyan couldn’t understand a derivative.
Unfortunately for Goldman’s case, however, at least one person at the bank was pretty sure the LIA couldn’t tell a derivative from a depositary receipt and that the Elect should go easy on them.
Mr. Ben-Brahim wrote in July 2008, “The biggest risk now is the natural internal pressure to ‘milk’ Libya (I expect everyone and his brother at GS to be visiting them with one brilliant idea after another, some partners will want to prove they can print business and won’t have the instruments of trust). Don’t push hard to do big deals—not now—it has a high risk of backfiring,” he wrote. “Avoid as much as possible complicated derivatives (they are not ready).”