Moammar Gaddafi secretly salted away more than $200 billion in bank accounts, real estate and corporate investments around the world before he was killed — about $30,000 for every Libyan citizen and double the amount that Western governments previously had suspected, according to senior Libyan officials.
The new estimates of the deposed dictator’s hidden cash, gold reserves and investments are “staggering,” one person who has studied detailed records of the asset search said Friday. “No one truly appreciated the scope of it.”
Gaddafi’s final hours
Timeline: Gaddafi’s 41-year-long rule
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If the values are accurate, Gaddafi will go down in history as one of the most rapacious as well as one of the most bizarre world leaders.
Revelation of the stunning size of the portfolio may stir anger among Libyans, about one-third of whom live in poverty. And it is likely to spur an effort to return the money to Libya’s transitional government, which says it wants to embark on an ambitious plan to modernize the country after nearly 42 years of Gaddafi’s rule.
During his 42 years in power, Gaddafi steered aid and investments to benefit his own family and tribe, but he denied support for much of the country, especially the eastern region that historically resisted his family’s despotic grip on power.
Gaddafi’s death sets the stage for other governments to begin repatriating a bonanza in sequestered assets to the oil-rich but cash-poor nation.
Obama administration officials last spring found $37 billion in Libyan regime accounts and investments, which they froze, in the United States. Subsequent investigations by American, European and Libyan authorities determined that Gaddafi secretly sent tens of billions more abroad and made sometimes lucrative investments in nearly every major country, including Europe, much of the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
— Los Angeles Times