A BILLION dollar stash of gold, cash and diamonds belonging to Libya’s Gaddafi family has reportedly been found in South Africa.
Detractors of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi always said he was ferreting away his country’s wealth for his own use, and it appears they were right.
The haul is said to be held by four banks and two security companies in South Africa. Libyan investigators have spoken to South African President Jacob Zuma and other officials to help recover it.
The assets are almost certainly linked to a man named Bashir Saleh, who was known as “Gaddafi’s banker” but survived the Libyan civil war.
Mr Saleh was spotted traveling freely through South Africa, and reportedly even attended a major economic summit in the South African city of Durban in March this year.
As recently as three weeks ago, Saleh, who is on Interpol’s most wanted list, was seen at a luxury hotel in Johannesburg.
Muammar Gaddafi seized power in Libya in a coup in 1969, bestowed upon himself the grandiose title “Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution”, then promptly steered his predominantly Islamic north African country towards a dictatorial form of socialism.
Libya has Africa’s largest oil reserves, from which it generates considerable wealth. But what should have belonged to the Libyan people soon found its way to the Gaddafi family and its cronies.
The entirety of the deceased dictator’s foreign assets have been estimated at up to $80 billion, so this week’s discovery is just a drop in the ocean. But it’s a start.
Muammar Gaddafi was brutally executed in 2011 by a militia group in the midst of the Libyan civil war which broke out as part of the wider Arab Spring uprising.
He had a rather lavish taste in clothes, and is said to have been the inspiration behind comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s lead character in the movie The Dictator.