• Fund had grown to be Africa’s second-largest under Qaddafi
  • Split at top of investment authority had imperilled lawsuits

Libya’s government appointed a steering committee to head the country’s $60 billion sovereign wealth fund, where rifts have hindered efforts to unite financial institutions in the fractured North African oil exporter.

The Libyan Investment Authority’s temporary five-member committee will be headed by one of the fund’s former directors, Ali Mohamed Hassan, according to a statement issued late Monday by the Presidential Council of the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord.

Established under Muammar Qaddafi to invest Libya’s oil wealth, the sovereign wealth fund grew to be Africa’s second-largest by the time he was deposed and killed in 2011. Like most other state institutions, it fell victim to conflict between warring factions in 2014, with two men claiming to be sole chairman -- Abdulmagid Breish, based in Tripoli, and Hassan Bouhadi, who wanted to lead it from Malta. The split threatened to derail Libya’s multibillion dollar lawsuits against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Societe Generale SA.

Four months after Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj arrived in Tripoli to head the unity government, he has so far failed to win the support of the rival parliament based in the nation’s east and the region’s most powerful military commander. That has slowed attempts to rebuild key institutions such as the central bank and national oil company.

The appointment of a steering committee came amid a series of key resignations among LIA officials based in the east. Bouhadi resigned Thursday, while Ali al-Hibrie, governor of the al-Bayda-based central bank, announced his resignation from the fund’s board of directors on Sunday.

The unity government said the steering committee will represent the LIA in all lawsuits in which the fund is involved, but doesn’t have the right to manage any of its assets.

The 43-year-old Hassan, who hails from the town of Wadan in southern Libya, held some posts in the state’s investment sector, including on the board of directors of the country’s stock exchange. None of the LIA’s former chairmen were appointed to the committee.

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