The dam project broke ground in 2010, according to the government assessment from 2011 reviewed by The New York Times. By Feb. 1, 2011, just before the uprising, the project had managed only “general preparations and earthworks,” the assessment said. No concrete or asphalt had been poured, it said, no pipes laid.
But Libya had already paid about $6 million, the document shows.
Libyan prosecutors said Monday that the water authority officials had sent Arsel further payments years later, after the work had been halted as a result of the uprising, “despite proof that the company had failed to fulfill its contractual obligations.” It did not say how much additional money had been paid, or when the funds had been transferred. Arsel was due to receive another $655,847 at the time that work stopped, according to the 2011 assessment.
Arsel’s owner, Orhan Ozer, declined to comment for this article.
At the time, virtually all public infrastructure was handled by Colonel el-Qaddafi’s central infrastructure agency, the Organization for Development of Administrative Centers, whether or not its name was on the contract. Its head was Ali Dbeiba, whom Libyan prosecutors later accused of routinely awarding contracts to companies he ultimately controlled or that paid him kickbacks, many of them Turkish. Prosecutors said he pocketed as much as $7 billion along the way.
Arsel had several other projects with ODAC, according to an archived version of Arsel’s website, which was taken down after the floods. Arsel was never publicly named in connection with the investigation, which did not identify the specific companies involved.
Mr. Dbeiba stashed the spoils in dozens of bank accounts and luxury properties around the world, according to an investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, an independent media network. Among the properties were multimillion-dollar homes in Scotland that Libya has asked the Scottish police to investigate.