Lap Green Networks, the Libyan investment authority's international telecommunications arm, has sued the Zambian government, demanding to be compensated US$480 million for its 75 percent share in Zamtel, seized by the Zambian government early this year.
Lap Green has filed a petition in the Zambian high court demanding the reversal of the seizure of the shares or compensation of $480 million. Additionally, Lap Green Networks is also claiming for substantial losses the company has suffered as the result of seizure of the shares.
The petition, filed in the Lusaka High court Monday, outlines Lap Green' right to financial compensation for the value of the asset at the time of seizure, should its shareholding not be restored.
Wafik Al-Shater, Lap Green's chairman, said in the petition that the seizure of the company's shareholding in Zamtel by the current Zambian government was illegal and unconstitutional and to the detriment of both Zamtel and its customers.
Al-Shater further disputes the legality of the Zambian government's claims that Lap Green Networks' shares were taken for "public purpose."
"We are compelled to take this course of action as dictated by the procedure set out in the Zambian law," Al-Shater said in the petition "Under Lap Green Networks management, we significantly increased the company's market share, leading to a 50% increase in revenue. The growth and prosperity that Zamtel saw under our management was unprecedented."
To recover the company's significant investment in Zamtel, Al-Shater said Lap Green will consider any and all legal options available, if necessary, whether in Zambia or in other jurisdictions.
The previous Zambian government sold Zamtel to Lap Green Networks in 2010 at a total cost of US$257 million after failing to recapitalize the company. But following the current government's coming to power in September last year, the President Michael Sata constituted a Commission of Inquiry to investigate how the company was sold. The inquiry produced a report that showed irregularities in the manner in which the company was sold, alleging that Lap Green Networks and RP Capital, which was appointed as financial advisor, bribed senior Zambian government officials.
The report said, "the sale of the company was fraudulent and irregular as Lap Green Networks did not even meet any of guidelines that were set by Zambia Development Agency for bidders."
However, Al-Shater is further seeking a court declaration that the procedure used by the Zambian government to compulsorily acquire the shares was improper, unreasonable and unlawful and that it should be set aside.
Dorah Siliya, the former minister of Communications and Transport who oversaw the sale of the company, has been arrested, and is already appearing in court regarding her role in the sale of the company.
Two months ago, Zambian Attorney General Mumba Malila said the Zambian government was still working out how Lap Green will be compensated for its shares and the investment that the company made in Zamtel.