Gaddafi House Seizure Shows How the West Makes Being a Corrupt Dictator Easier

March 5th, 2012

The Task Force’s Nick Mathiason, writing for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, reported on the asset seizure claim by Libya against the son of the former Libyan dictator. An excerpt:

Easy to launder cash in the west
Libyan investigators say they were unable to establish Saadi as the owner of 7 Winnington Close until the British Treasury’s intervention. Treasury officials directly contacted authorities in the BVI, which is famous for protecting the identities of the ultimate beneficiaries of companies based there, who were forced to comply.

The lawyer hired by the Libyan embassy to handle the groundbreaking case is Mohamed Shaban. He stated he has had to establish that Saadi could not have bought the property on his official military wage of £34,000 as commander of Unit 48 in the Libyan Ministry of Defence.

“It would be imposible for him to make £10m in cash,” Shaban said.

“This is hugely significant,” said Robert Palmer, an anti-corruption campaigner at Global Witness. “It looks as if it’s the first asset recovery case related to the Arab spring in London. It is a very complicated process requiring a significant degree of co-operation to identify an asset that is suspected of corruption and then take a case through the courts.”

I highly recommend reading the full article. It makes two things abundantly clear to me. First, that it was far too easy for the Gaddafi family to launder the proceeds of corruption in the West. All it took was a shell corporation in the British Virgin Islands to buy the property. Second, it seems like recovering these assets, rumored to value in the US$200 billion range, is proving to be a long, complicated, and imperfect process. Only a fraction of that has been frozen and returned to the Libyan people.

Written by EJ Fagan

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