Colonel Gaddafi, A Hidden Billionaire

When most of us think of billionaires our minds turn to the likes of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates or those running Facebook.

But they are poor by comparison.

Compared that is, to Colonel Gaddafi, who according to the LA Times had hidden away billions, and billions:

“During his 42 years in power, Kadafi steered aid and investment to benefit his own family and tribe, but denied support for much of the country, especially the eastern region that historically resisted his family’s despotic grip on power.

Obama administration officials were stunned last spring when they found $37 billion in Libyan regime accounts and investments in the United States, and they quickly froze the assets before Kadafi or his aides could move them.

Governments in France, Italy, England and Germany seized control of another $30 billion or so. Investigators estimated that Kadafi had stashed perhaps another $30 billion elsewhere in the world, for a total of about $100 billion.

But subsequent investigations by American, European and Libyan authorities determined that Kadafi secretly sent tens of billions more abroad over the years and made sometimes lucrative investments in nearly every major country, including much of the Middle East and Southeast Asia, officials said Friday.

Most of the money was under the name of government institutions such as the Central Bank of Libya, the Libyan Investment Authority, the Libyan Foreign Bank, the Libyan National Oil Corp. and the Libya African Investment Portfolio. But investigators said Kadafi and his family members could access any of the money if they chose to.

The new $200 billion figure is about double the prewar annual economic output of Libya, which has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa. “

Even supposing that the final figures come to half of that, say, $100 billion, it would mean that Colonel Gaddafi was wealthier than Bill Gates ($59 billion) and towers over Warren Buffet ($39 billion).

Far from the Green Book and its socialistic slogans Colonel Gaddafi was more concerned with stuffing his pockets full of the Libyan people’s money.

Just what you would expect from a dictator that’s been in power for 42 years, stealing every day of the week.

Update 1: Kevin Connolly’s piece is good:

“Gaddafi made you wonder if dictatorship attracts the mad, or maddens those attracted to it.

He was an old-fashioned, theatrical sort of tyrant, whose lineage you can trace from the bombastic ravings of Mussolini, through the kilted debauchery of Idi Amin, to the platform-heeled kleptocracy of Omar Bongo of Gabon.

He recruited a corps of Amazonian female bodyguards, drove a golf buggy and permanently closed every cinema in the country – apparently in case movie-goers plotted against him.

With Gaddafi, though, with all of them, the darkness was always there. He sponsored terrorism overseas and in Libya, at his behest, fingernails were ripped out and eyes were gouged; homes and hearts were broken.

He corrupted the soul of the nation. Everyone wondered if everyone else was an informer.

One middle-aged woman told me, at the beginning of this last revolution in the battered centre of the city of Benghazi, that she thought the worst thing about living under a dictatorship was that it made you ashamed that you did not resist, that you were not a hero.

“You pass the habit of fear on to your children,” she said.

She could remember the leaders of a previous student rising in Benghazi being hanged from lamp-posts in the city centre.

Hands behind their backs, their bodies dangled on long stretches of electrical cable with their feet just a metre or so off the ground.

Life choked out of them slowly and agonisingly. And when they were close to death, a well-known sidekick of Gaddafi’s finished them off by hugging them around the knees and tugging down on their helpless bodies. “