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Entries in Moammar Gadhafi (1)

Tuesday
Aug232011

Where is Gadhafi -- and His Billions?

ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's war chest might have been large enough at one point to support fighting against rebel forces, but how much remains and could be extracted by Libya's new Transitional National Council remains to be seen.

Gadhafi and his family have an estimated $33 billion -- and $60 billion in unaccounted money around the world.  The country's oil wealth, as the world's 12th largest oil exporter, was a source of high-living not necessarily for Gadhafi, but for his children.

Robert Powell, senior analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit, part of the Economist Group, said that while Gadhafi lived relatively modestly -- generally staying close to his nomadic roots -- his children were less traditional.  Powell said Gadhafi lived in tents, and tried to set up camp when he traveled abroad as well.

"His children generally went a little bit off the rails and really enjoyed the high life," Powell said.

Libyan rebels announced this weekend that they had captured three of Gadhafi's sons, including Saif al Islam Gadhafi, his second-eldest son and his reported expected successor. However, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi resurfaced Monday, giving journalists a tour of the areas of the country still loyal to his family's regime.

His brothers, Saadi and Mohammed Gadhafi, were also reported to have been arrested -- but officials are unsure where Gadhafi and his other children are located.

Mansour El-Kikhia, a professor of political science at the University of Texas, San Antonio, said Gadhafi and his children helped themselves to the Libyan treasury without accountability.  He said some of his children had large private yachts, planes and property in cities such as Geneva, Vienna, and London.

Powell said the Libyan government was "hugely corrupt" and dominated both the political and business networks of the country.

"They paid themselves out of government coffers and gave themselves official roles," Powell said of the Gadhafi family.

Daniel Serwer, a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a scholar at the Middle East Institute, said Libya's new Transitional National Council could have a "very difficult" time regaining state assets.

"I can guarantee you right now someone is trying to privatize whatever assets are sitting in Libya's central bank, privatizing land, offices, and stealing computers.  This is what goes on," Serwer said during a conference call Monday afternoon, hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations.

Powell said part of the difficulty in identifying Gadhafi's bank accounts is that his surname is not easily translated into English.

"Literally there are hundreds of ways to spell 'Gadhafi,'" he said.

Powell said Gadhafi had vast cash and gold resources in Tripoli he could access if other countries froze his foreign assets, which eventually happened.

El-Kikhia said various countries and banks have tracked at least $160 billion of Libyan money in foreign accounts.

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