Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gaddafi Financing Libya’s War With Gold

If there is one way to go around sanctions, then having a pile of gold could make the difference. Well, that’s how Libya’s Muammer Gaddafi has reportedly been able to finance his war.

From the Financial Times,

The international community has hit Muammer Gaddafi with a raft of sanctions and asset freezes aimed at cutting off his funding. But the embattled Libyan leader is sitting on a pot of gold.

The Libyan central bank – which is under Colonel Gaddafi’s control – holds 143.8 tonnes of gold, according to the latest data from the International Monetary Fund, although some suspect the true amount could be several tonnes higher.

Those reserves, among the top 25 in the world, are worth more than $6.5bn at current prices, enough to pay a small army of mercenaries for months or even years.

While many central banks hold their gold reserves in international vaults in London, New York or Switzerland, Libya’s bullion is in the country, said people familiar with the country’s activities in the gold market.

As I earlier pointed out, part of gold role’s in the Middle East crisis has been as “alternative ways to shelter assets”.

More from the same article,

The political turbulence in the Middle East – besides boosting the price of gold to a record $1,444 a troy ounce – has highlighted the property that has for centuries made gold so appealing to criminals, investors and dictators alike: it does not rely on a government for its value.

Following the revolution in Egypt, the country banned gold exports for four months in order to prevent officials of the former government from moving their wealth abroad.

At the same time, Iran has been quietly stocking up on gold in recent years, in an apparent attempt to shift away from the US dollar and thus protect its reserves from risk of seizure. Other significant buyers of gold include China, Russia and India.

Maverick governments are learning to see the role of Gold as an anti-establishment currency.

More signs of Gold gradually reacquiring its lost role as money.

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