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Where are ex-Libyan dictator Gadhafi’s missing billions? New UN report offers clues

In this Sept. 23, 2009 photo, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi shows a torn copy of the UN Charter during his address to the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
In this Sept. 23, 2009 photo, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi shows a torn copy of the UN Charter during his address to the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

A new United Nations report is shedding light on the disappearance of billions of dollars that vanished following the violent death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The report from the UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Libya, released earlier this month, details how the missing billions and gold have been hidden in locked boxes and bank accounts across the African continent.

In 2011, Gadhafi was pulled by rebels from a culvert and killed. Grainy images of his death were shared around the world.

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However, before the death of the Libyan dictator it was reported he had sold a fifth of the country’s gold reserves and along with Libya’s vast oil revenues had amassed a fortune of up to $200 billion, according to some estimates.

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Everyone from Libyan military factions, arms dealers and international brokers have been searching for the missing money ever since the dictator’s death.

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Now investigators with the UN say that sources have revealed a huge amount of cash and gold had been hidden in West African countries.

“The Panel is investigating independent reports on the involvement of a listed individual in storing large amounts of physical assets in several locations in West Africa,” the report said. “Six sources have alerted the Panel that attempts are being made to move some of these assets back to Libya and to possibly make them available to some of Libya’s competing political and military stakeholders.”

The report claims that four independent sources have said “$560 million, in USD 100 denominations, is kept by a group of Libyans in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.”

Photos of locked steel boxes in Ouagadougou, allegedly containing Gadhafi’s money.
Photos of locked steel boxes in Ouagadougou, allegedly containing Gadhafi’s money. (United Nations)

 “Although the transfer of these assets has failed for now, the Panel has seen documentation showing that the logistical preparations were well-advanced. Groups involved in the negotiations expect to receive a commission of 10 or even 35 per cent,” the report said.

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In a second case, the report outlines that an unknown number of Gadhafi assets were kept in boxes in Accra, the capital of Ghana. The boxes were marked with the stamp of a humanitarian organization, Le Comité International pour la Protection des Droits de l’Homme.

The report said assets were allegedly stored in boxes with an ICRC logo at the premises ofan ‘international human rights organization.’
The report said assets were allegedly stored in boxes with an ICRC logo at the premises ofan ‘international human rights organization.’. (Screenshot/United Nations)

The security council panel said that police in Ghana have filed a report on the discovery, but authorities and the “human-rights organization” have failed to answer the panel’s letters seeking clarification about the contents of the boxes.

“It appears that agents reporting to the [Libyan National Army] have tried to ‘recover’ the assets,” the UN report said. “Additional countries in the region have been mentioned in conversations with the Panel but no documentation or details were provided.
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In Kenya, documentation from 2017 showed $800-million was moved from a Standard Bank of South Africa account to the Kenyan bank Stanbic, and was allegedly authorized by Libyan Bashir Saleh al-Shrkawi, also known as Gaddafi’s former banker.

And while South African banks have long been suspected of hiding Gadhafi’s missing wealth, the panel said it received documents in 2016 showing that the Libyan military had allegedly attempted to use the dictator’s assets to purchase weapons from the South African defence industry.

“The Panel has spoken to numerous Libyan politicians and civil servants who confirm that several ‘official’ delegations have travelled to South Africa to meet with the ANC leadership and discuss the issue of the return of Libyan assets,” the report said.