Secret Scads of Cash Bankroll Gadhafi's Fight
Libyan leader likely has access to 'tens of billions'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2011 6:55 AM CST
Updated Mar 10, 2011 7:58 AM CST
This video image taken from Turkish television Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is seen during an interview with the TV channel TRT, in Tripoli, Libya, Tuesday March 8, 2011.   (AP Photo/TRT)
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(Newser) – The US alone has frozen nearly $32 billion of Libya’s assets, so how can Moammar Gadhafi afford to keep fighting? Easy: piles of cash amounting to “tens of billions,” officials tell the New York Times. Gadhafi has been hoarding cash in Tripoli, keeping it out of the reach of foreign governments: some at his compound, some in the Libyan Central Bank, which he controls, and some in other private banks. The result? Sanctions imposed by the US, UN, and EU have had only a limited impact on his regime. With his “rainy day” cash, Gadhafi has been able to pay his troops and political supporters, as well as hire 3000 to 4000 African mercenaries at $1000 per day, sources say.

There are indications Gadhafi moved billions just days or weeks before unrest broke out in his country, but has probably been building up his liquid assets for years. Much of the money is likely not in Gadhafi’s name, but in the name of family members and associates, one expert says. The cash reserves are especially important to Gadhafi as Libya’s oil production has dwindled from 1.8 million barrels a day to between 300,000 and 400,000, and export markets are basically closed, making it difficult for the government to bring in revenue even on that.