“The Gaddafi family could have billions of dollars of funds hidden in secret bank accounts in Dubai, south-east Asia and the Persian Gulf, much of it likely to have come from Libya’s vast oil revenues”
“The Gaddafi family could have billions of dollars of funds hidden in secret bank accounts in Dubai, south-east Asia and the Persian Gulf, much of it likely to have come from Libya's vast oil revenues,” according to analysis by leading Middle East experts quoted by the Guardian.
Professor Tim Niblock, a specialist in Middle Eastern politics at the University of Exeter, has identified a gap of several billion dollars a year between the amount Libya makes from its oil reserves and government spending – a shortfall he expects has contributed greatly to the wealth of Muammar Gaddafi and his nine children.
Alistair Newton, senior political analyst at Nomura, the Japanese bank and president of BRISMES, agreed that it was difficult to establish the extent of the Gaddafis' wealth but said he "would be surprised if it didn't run into billions", the Guardian reported.
In addition to squirrelling away much of their income, the Gaddafis have spent fortunes over the years propping up various African regimes, with Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, widely acknowledged to be one of the recipients, Niblock said.
In addition to the Gaddafis' private holdings, the state is thought to have invested close to £61.8bn in assets across the globe.
Their investments in the UK include an eight-bedroom home in Hampstead, north London, with a swimming pool and suede-lined cinema room. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the Libyan leader's second son, bought it in 2009 for £10m.
Most of the state's investments are made by the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), a "sovereign wealth fund" set up in 2006 to spend the country's oil money, which has an estimated $70bn of assets. LIA bought 3% of Pearson last year for £224m, making it one of the group's biggest shareholders, and had a 0.02% stake in RBS, although this was recently sold.
According to the website, Gaddafi and Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi have a famously warm personal relationship. Less well-known, however, is the fact that Berlusconi is in business with one of the Libyan state's investment vehicles.
Experts say if Gaddafi is overthrown, the investments made by Libya's state funds would probably be unaffected, since a new government would have more pressing matters to attend to, and any sudden movements could damage their reputation, according to the Guardian.
However, it is thought more likely that a new regime in Libya could look to freeze the assets of the Gaddafi family, as the new government in Egypt did with the assets of deposed Hosni Mubarak and his family. Since most of these are held in liquid form – and in country's outside Europe and the US – this would have no significant ramifications for business, they argue.