In 2010, Liberia was awarded $4.6 billion in debt relief from the IMF and the World Bank under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative. As IMF First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky stated, "Debt relief would allow Liberia to secure additional financing...to help deliver critically needed services and infrastructure necessary for Liberia’s future prosperity.” In 2010, with 63.8% of the population living in poverty, a 42.9% adult literacy rate and a life expectancy of only 58.9 years (according to the World Bank), Liberia needed to focus inward, on infrastructure, health and education. At the same time, however, Liberia was forced to focus on vulture fund litigation.
In 2009, the year before Liberia received the debt relief, two vulture funds sued Liberia in a London court for a 30-year-old, $6.5 million dollar loan. Originally taken out in 1978 from US based Chemical Bank, it was divided and sold on the secondary market to a number of buyers, including Hamsah Investments and Wall Capital, two vulture funds located in tax haven countries in the Caribbean.
Shortly after receiving these debts, Hamsah Investments and Wall Capital took Liberia to court. At the end of this process, Liberia owed $20 million dollars, a sum much larger than the initial $6.5 million dollars, and equal to about 5% of the national budget. In 2010, Liberia was able to reach a settlement with the vulture funds, agreeing to pay just over 3% of the $43 million the sum had purportedly climbed to. Although Liberia was able to negotiate with the Vulture Funds, the mounting legal fees and energy the country spent throughout the litigation process was significant. Liberia was forced to direct funds away from development in a time of dire need.