Muammar Gaddafi, the infamous Libyan dictator, had managed to accrue an estimated $200 billion in assets during his lifetime. However, now that he’s gone, it will prove difficult to recover and distribute that money because a large part of it was in legitimate investments.
This estimate, although it cannot be truly confirmed for months, would have made Gaddafi the richest man in the world.
In his 42 years of absolute power over Libya’s oil reserves, the tyrant used his vast fortune in both secret and public investments. Because the sanctions against his country were lifted in 2004, he had the power to purchase properties, invest in banks, and become a major shareholder of various companies.
Now that the terrorist’s reign is over, the recovery effort has begun. However, the redistribution of Libya’s wealth to the people could take much longer than the nine-month ousting of Gaddafi.
Earlier this year, once the Libyan revolution began, the U.S. and other countries began to freeze Gaddafi’s assets in preparation to take from the rich and give to the poor.
Robin Hood-type virtue aside, it will be an arduous task taking back the despot’s estimated $37 billion in United States assets, his $30 billion in Europe and China, and tens of billions worldwide, according to figures stated by the Los Angeles Times.
Investors from companies like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, General Electric, and Halliburton want to see returns on their investments and pulling Gaddafi’s billions out of banks, brokerage houses, and companies could affect the world economy in a significant way.
An additional nuisance is all the properties the totalitarian collected.
A $10 million home in Hampstead and a 10,000-foot home in Englewood, New Jersey round out Gaddafi’s assortment of properties in Spain, London, and of course, all throughout Libya.
One obstacle to the reorganization of Libyan wealth is the lack of a concentrated effort.
The Times reported that some African countries hesitated to freeze Gaddafi’s assets in their countries because of their loyalty to him. Still others depend on his funds to pay their workers – freezing his assets would mean many workers couldn’t get paid.
The Libyan population, of which a third live in poverty, make an average of only $12,000 a year. Gaddafi’s riches are enough to give $30,000 to every man, woman, and child in the population of 6.5 million.
Juan Zarate, an official who assisted in the location effort of Saddam Hussein’s holdings, said, “[Gaddafi’s] holdings have been notorious. They weren’t trying to hide their assets,” according to thedaily.com.
The ex-ruler’s billions certainly were very visible in various markets.
“The tricky part is… how you disentangle and determine ownership interests for the assets that may be out there,” said Zarate.
And tricky it has been.
Though many of Gaddafi’s investments were visible, tracking them under names like: the Central Bank of Libya, the Libya Investment Authority, the Libyan Foreign Bank, the Libyan National Oil Corporation, and the Libyan African Investment Portfolio make establishing who owns what tedious.
So far, of the assets frozen and recovered, the U.S. has only authorized that $1.5 billion of it be released to the current ruling government, the National Transitional Council. The NTC has only needed $700 million of that amount so far.