Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi speaks during a ceremony in Tripoli. Abdel Magid Al Fergany/AP
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What Moammar Gadhafi’s death means to Libya and the rest of the world will take months, if not years, to sort out. There are big questions around leadership, politics, weapons, and wealth. At iWatch News, we believe following the money is paramount because money always leads to power.

So in these hours after the dictator’s death, we think the questions worth asking include:

  • How much money does Libya have access to now, in the form of foreign assistance and domestic income or cash reserves?
  • Where is it? How much is inside the country or in foreign banks awaiting repatriation or settlement of ownership claims?
  • Who in Tripoli is controlling the cash outflow?
  • Can foreign governments trace the Gadhafi family’s wealth? How much of Libya’s money does the US still have under its control and will his death speed the repatriation of those funds now?
  • How quickly will foreign aid or the country’s own wealth reach those who have been harmed the most by the civil conflict, and will it be distributed equitably?

Much has been written about Gadhafi’s wealth, Libyan money and oil. Here are a few sources we’ve found most enlightening:

“Gadhafis’ hidden billions: Dubai banks, plush London pads and Italian water” – The Guardian, 2/22/2011
Libya’s oil wealth has been siphoned out of the country by a powerful elite – including Gadhafi and his nine children.

“Inside Gadhafi’s inner circle” – Al Jazeera, 2/27/2011
A look at the people Moammar Gadhafi relies on to entrench his rule and to remain in power in Libya.

“The Complicated Hunt for Gadhafi’s Billions” – Der Spiegel, 5/16/2011
The West had been hoping to use frozen assets belonging to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and his clan to support the rebels. But that effort is proving much more complicated han first envisioned. Washington and Europe find themselves in an embarrassing predicament.

“The Finance Minister Who Robbed A Bank” — Planet Money podcast, 5/10/2011
Ali Tarhouni fled Libya 40 years ago, and settled down in Seattle teaching microeconomics at the University of Washington. When protests began in Febuary, he returned, and become finance minister for the National Transitional Council.

“The future of Moammar Gadhafi’s assets” — Marketplace Q&A, 10/20/2011
Now that Muammar Gaddafi is dead, attention will turn to the assets he held all over the world, and how the money might be returned back to the Libyan people.

External sources for historical context:

“Oil Wealth Fuels Gaddafi’s Drive For Reinvention” – Washington Post, 11/6/2007

“Timeline: Col. Moammar Gadhafi” – New York Times interactive

Government records:

Sanctions on Libya by the U.S. Department of Treasury

The “national emergency” order, signed by Obama, allowing the government to freeze Libyan funds (It was implemented by several other orders by the Treasury Department, here and here). Then additional documents showed the department unwinding those sanctions to allow oil dealings with the new, transitional government.

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