Matthew Campbell and Kit Chellel

When dictator Moammar Qaddafi renounced Libya’s nuclear and chemical weapons program in the early 2000s, the international sanctions that had dammed the country’s vast oil wealth, estimated at $60 billion, were relaxed for the first time in decades. Wall Street banks sensed an opportunity in the reemergence of the isolated desert nation, led by hard-charging Goldman Sachs and a junior securities salesman named Youssef Kabbaj. What happened next served as the nexus for this rollicking feature story by Bloomberg Businessweek’s Matthew Campbell and Kit Chellel. The two reporters used thousands of pages of court documents as well as dozens of interviews to untangle the “unlikely partnership” between the most aggressive wolf on Wall Street and its series of opaque derivatives transactions, and the country still known as the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. The costly scandal that ensued wound up in a London courtroom after Campbell and Chellel showed how Libya lost every penny of its $1.2 billion investment with Goldman Sachs and how Kabbaj was forced to flee the country amid death threats, his career in shambles.

Gerald Loeb Awards 2017