The trouble with the idea of Heaven is that for the fervent it justifies creating Hell on earth. Poverty is hell. Muammar Gaddafi reigned over Libya for 42 menacing years. In 2010 he sold 20% of Libya’s gold reserves for $1.7 billion. In that year Libya’s petroleum revenues exceeded $30 billion. Money was no problem. Billions were squirrelled away in surreptitious bank accounts in Dubai, south-east Asia and the Persian Gulf. Wealth syphoned off from the people. In the same year Libyans experienced unimaginable unemployment. They survived in a hell of destitution and intellectual darkness while the Gaddafi family lived large in lavishness and imperial pageantry. The ordinary people trudged through their daily existence in shabbiness and squalor that made the Gaza look like the Garden of Eden.
In his final moments Muammar crept out of a sewage pipe- supplicating for compassion from his captors. But like Remi Maalouf they too had come to uphold the dogma that clemency was a matter for the divine and sending him to receive it was up to them. By 26 February 2011 the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution freezing the assets of Gaddafi and his companions. On 19 March 2011, a multi-state NATO-led coalition began a military intervention in Libya to implement Security Council Resolution No. 1973.
At around 01:30 local time on 20 October 2011, Gaddafi, his army chief Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr and his security chief Mansour Dhao, were in a convoy of 75 vehicles. A Royal Air Force reconnaissance aircraft spotted them after NATO forces intercepted a satellite phone call made by Gaddafi. NATO aircraft fired on 21 of the vehicles. A U.S. Predator drone operated from a base near Las Vegas fired on the convoy hitting its target with precision at about 3 kilometres west of Sirte. Moments later, French Air Force Rafale fighter jets joined the skirmish. The convoy splintered. A second strike destroyed 11 vehicles.
The extrajudicial slaying of Gaddafi who escaped the bombardment and hid in a sewer was a marker for the wider Arab Spring and the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). Veterans of Libya’s war against Gaddafi’s regime joined the uprising against Bashar al-Assad in Syria in 2011. Thousands of Libyans fought with a variety of rebel groups and many under the black flag of ISIS.
Following Gaddafi’s death in 2011, about 16 Billion euros belonging to Gaddafi were frozen in four Belgian banks in accordance with the UN Security Council resolution. However, there have been regular outflows of stock dividends, bond income and interest payments to unknown beneficiaries with bank accounts in Luxembourg and Bahrain between 2011 and 2017. The exposure of Belgium’s mishandling of Gaddafi’s frozen assets lit a votive candle in London and light fell upon the shadow of a whopping £12 Billion in assets which Gaddafi had stashed in the UK.
As it turned out Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs collected around £17 million in taxes on the assets since 2016. Professor of European Law, Franco Rizzuto, at Edge Hill University in the UK, opines that taxes can be collected by the HM Revenue and Customs from the frozen assets of a designated person under the provisions of the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) and that such action is entirely legal under UN, EU and UK law. He opined however, that the Belgian Ministry of Finance may have erred since an EU member state cannot unilaterally decide to opt out of UN-authorised and EU-implemented asset freezes.
Apart from Gadhafi’s’ private holdings, the state is thought to have invested close to £61.8bn in assets across the globe including an eight-bedroom plush Hampstead north London pad with a swimming pool and suede-lined cinema room alongside Portman House on Oxford Street and an office at 14 Cornhill opposite the Bank of England. In 2009 Silvio Berlusconi hosted the G8 summit. Gaddafi was a special guest. Speeding towards the earthquake-stricken city of L’Aquila, which Berlusconi had chosen as the venue, Gaddafi’s motor cavalcade stopped in a village by a river at the foot of a deep gorge. Shortly afterwards a Libyan delegation returned to announce that they wanted to build a luxury spa hotel and water bottling plant in the hamlet.
The struggling, spa town of Fiuggi, outside Rome was also targeted to benefit from a proposal to invest €250m to construct a conference centre, airstrip, spa and another water bottling plant. Tarak Ben Ammar the founder of Quinta Communications claims that the minority shareholdings of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Fininvest SpA and the Libyan state in the Paris-based film company have been unjustly made the focus of a political dispute. Tarak is the nephew of the late Tunisian leader, Habib Bourguiba. Berlusconi has a 22% interest in the company through a Luxembourg-registered subsidiary of Fininvest. In Paris, Nicolas Sarkozy now faces the likelihood of a trial on charges of illegal campaign finance linked to Libya. Trinidad and Tobago has taken notice of these signposts in the dark alongside the apocryphal Panama and Paradise Papers and so the recent Companies Amendment Act (2018) puts shell companies and hush-hush owners under scrutiny for insincerity.