The United Nations announced on Monday that Libyan officials are allowing a long-sought external audit of the country's Central Bank to go ahead, a breakthrough that could pave the way for an end to a crippling oil blockade.
Libya sits on the largest proven oil reserves in Africa.
The Central Bank of Libya is the repository for billions of dollars annually in oil revenue as well as foreign reserves. In 2014, the bank splintered along the country's broader political fault lines.
The U.N. Mission in Libya welcomed the international financial review as a ``critical step'' toward improving transparency and accountability in Libya's financial system.
London-based accounting firm Deloitte will conduct the audit of both banks, it said.
Ramzy Agha, a senior official in the east-based Central Bank, confirmed that preparations for the audit had been completed and said he expects the review to begin next week.
``We are ready and have been ready to participate openly in this review,'' said Agha.
Officials in the Tripoli-based Central Bank did not respond to requests for comment.
The U.N. statement did not describe the hurdles that stalled the audit process since bank governors agreed on its terms in the fall of 2018. But Libyan officials have repeatedly accused Tripoli-based Central Bank Governor Sadiq al-Kabir of obstruction and requested that he resign.
In a statement earlier this month, the eastern branch said obstacles posed by the Tripoli-based bank prompted the state prosecutor to intervene to push the audit forward.
The Tripoli-based bank has denied the allegations, saying that it ``confirms its readiness for an audit that it has requested since 2016.``
*This story was edited by Ahram Online.