Group with alleged ties to Libyan money building hotel in Benghazi

A hotel company, which reportedly has been known to have had ties to Libyan government money, will now construct a luxury hotel in Benghazi, Libya, sight of a September 2012 terrorist attack on the American diplomatic mission that resulted in the murder of the U.S. ambassador and another diplomat.

Malta Today reports that International Hotel Investments p.l.c. (IHI) has entered into an agreement with the Libyan Foreign Investment Company (LFICO) to set up a joint stock company, which will own a mixed-use development, incorporating a 259-room Corinthia Hotel in Benghazi.

The project will be located on a seafront site in Libya's second largest city, and have 10,000 square metres of office space, 2,000 square metres of retail space, two restaurants, meeting rooms, banqueting halls, a spa and a business centre.

The JV agreement was signed by Alfred Pisani, chairman of IHI, and Khaled El Gonsul, chief executive of LFICO.

Pisani called the project a significant milestone in the Corinthia connection with Libya and it was a strong sign of confidence in the future of the city.

While Benghazi may be best known to Americans as a place of violence, it is home to an extensive petrochemical sector and there are reportedly plans to enhance and expand the city's infrastructure and facilities.

The necessary planning permits for the project have been issued by the Benghazi planning authorities, demolition work started last week, and the project is expected to be completed in mid-2017.

In other Corinthia news, a new book reveals that Lawrence Gonzi, former prime minister of Malta, where Corinthia Group is based, was instrumental in avoiding Nato airstrikes on the Corinthia hotel in Tripoli at the height of the Libyan civil war in 2011, the Times of Malta reports.

The revelation was made by Corinthia Group chairman Alfred Pisani in the book "Gonzi and Malta’s Break with Gaddafi – Recollections of a Premier" authored by retired diplomat and former ambassador to Libya Joseph Cassar.

The book deals with the unfolding of the Libyan crisis and the end of the Gaddafi regime. As the Times of Malta reports, as the civil war was drawing to an end and the action centred around Tripoli, the movement of rebel forces and Gaddafi loyalists created logistical problems as they both sought shelter and food.

Pisani recounted how the decision by the Group not to abandon the Corinthia BAB Africa and its Palm City resort paid dividends as otherwise they would both have been ransacked and looted.