A Libyan rebel stands on a picture of ex-Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Benghazi on June 22, 2011
A Libyan rebel stands on a picture of ex-Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi on June 22, 2011. Libya has called on the South African government to help it recover more than $1 billion in diamonds, gold and cash allegedly stashed in the country by slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi, a local newspaper reported on Sunday. © Patrick Baz - AFP/File
A Libyan rebel stands on a picture of ex-Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Benghazi on June 22, 2011
AFP
Last updated: June 2, 2013

Libya seeking to recover Kadhafi riches in South Africa

Libya has called on the South African government to help it recover more than $1 billion in diamonds, gold and cash allegedly stashed in the country by slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi, a local newspaper reported Sunday.

The Sunday Times said Libyan investigators had approached the South African treasury with evidence that the assets were being held by four local banks and two security companies.

"The process of verifying the group's claim is under way," Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's spokesman Jabulani Sikhakhane was quoted as saying.

The newspaper published extracts of letters from Libya's justice and finance ministers to their South African counterparts seeking help in finding Kadhafi-linked assets which might have been "illegally possessed, obtained, looted, deposited or hidden in South Africa".

The letters said Libyan investigators had "uncovered large funds and assets in South Africa and neighbouring states".

South Africa was opposed to NATO's military intervention in Libya during the rebel uprising against Kadhafi's regime.

The veteran leader was captured and killed in October 2011 while he was trying to flee his home town of Sirte, the last major city to fall to the rebels.

Libyan investigators learned of state funds stashed in South Africa from Kadhafi's former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, who is currently in a Libyan prison after being extradited from Mauritania, the Sunday Times said.

Part of the missing money is allegedly controlled by Kadhafi's former chief of staff Bashir Saleh, the report said.

Saleh, who headed Libya's $40 billion sovereign wealth fund, is wanted in Libya for fraud and is the target of an Interpol arrest warrant under the alias Bashir al-Shrkawi.

But South Africa's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), said he had been seen in South Africa on several occasions, including at an event hosted by the country's ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The DA said it would convene an urgent meeting of a parliamentary committee to demand an explanation from police intelligence as to why he had not been arrested.

"The committee should also conduct an investigation into how and why someone on an international most-wanted list was invited to the ANC's centenary dinner... in January 2012, and whether this was known prior to his attending it, and by whom," DA lawmaker Dianne Kohler Barnard said in a statement.

The fact that... he is able to fly regularly -- without being detained -- between South Africa, Swaziland and Niger points to someone with connections in high places in the current government."

National police spokesman Brigadier Phuti Setati said he could not comment as he was "not aware of those allegations", the Sapa news agency reported.

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