Whose money is frozen in Gaddafi name? It may seem a trivial, obvious, almost rhetorical question. In reality it is not.
When NATO triggered the no fly zone in Libya in 2011, effectively starting the era of the rais towards the end, the United Nations Security Council froze billions of dollars belonging to the LIA, the Libyan sovereign fund where the huge oil revenues have flowed over the years.
A decision motivated by the need to trigger sanctions against the Gaddafi family. However, those were not personal sums of the rais, but of the Libyans. Perhaps the former leader had his own personal treasure, of which however there is no trace.
But regardless of the ownership of those sums and assets accumulated over so many decades, today the hunt for that enormous heritage is open. Because it is tempting to everyone: international actors, Libyan militias, leaders of today and leaders of tomorrow. Nobody wants to deprive themselves of a piece of cake left by Gaddafi.
The South African track of mister Goaied
There is a man who is most obsessed with Gaddafi’s treasure. It is taking time and money to find it and unearth it. This is Erik Goaied , even if the name does not seem to be certain.
He, a Tunisian businessman with Swedish origins, is known as Skander Goaied in the Tunisian regions where he grew up.
Officially, as pointed out by the Jeuneafrique.com website, is a farmer specializing in the potato sector. But it’s been a long time since he showed up in his parts.
Instead he appears as Erik Goaied in other documents with which he made himself known internationally. In particular, the farmer entered into business with Libya in 2008 at the time of Gaddafi. This is thanks to the proximity to one of the rais’ loyalists, Colonel Mohamed Tag , who allowed him to start importing various products from abroad to Libya.
At one point, it wasn’t just the agricultural sector that was at the heart of its business. Goaied also began to encourage the entry of South African weapons, becoming a reference for the Denel company. A circumstance that helps to understand the Tunisian man’s relations with South Africa .
Despite Gaddafi’s collapse in 2011 , his economic adventure and his proximity to Mohamed Tag have not ended. Also because Goaied also has good relations in the United States , where he appears to have trained for a year as a pilot.
With the former colonel of the rais in 2013 he founded the Washington African Consulting Groupand as a representative of the group he went to South Africa that year asking the government for help in supplying weapons to a Libyan army now in disarray. However, the request for weapons was only a pretext.
In Pretoria the businessman asked for something else: to have access to papers and documents capable of ascertaining the presence in South African territory of Gaddafi’s real treasure.
Not sums set aside and frozen in the LIA, but huge personal assets transferred to South Africa shortly before the collapse of his regime.
Since then, Goaied’s “hunt” for treasure has never stopped. And it continues today with the man cautiously moved to the United States undercover to avoid possible attacks.
Why Gaddafi would have transferred the treasure to South Africa
The exact location of Gaddafi’s assets would have been revealed to the Tunisian businessman by Mohamed Tag. The latter allegedly spoke of a transfer of at least 12 billion dollars from Tripoli to Johannesburg carried out by the rais as early as December 2010, before the outbreak of the war.
In South Africa, after all, Gaddafi was well liked. In the 1980s, his government was globally active in advocating for causes the former Libyan leader believed to be right.
These include those of ‘African National Congress of Nelson Mandela against apartheid. Today the people aided by Gaddafi at the time are in power.
When the rais smelled the winds of war, it is not strange that he could have found a country in South Africa capable of welcoming his treasure. It is perhaps impossible to quantify the value of those assets.
There is talk of 400 billion dollars, including cash, diamonds and gold bars. Figures that just mentioning them cannot fail to tempt dozens of current players involved in the Libyan chessboard.
But there is no trace of the treasure. Goaied found nothing, not even a shred of document capable of proving its existence. But his personal hunt continues.
In 2015 he also used his contacts with some Washington lobbies to try to pressure the South African government to reveal details about the treasury. But without important results.
The race for Gaddafi’s assets is still open. And it involves not only the Tunisian businessman but also a myriad of militias and chieftains eager to get their hands on an enormously rich loot.