Libya's Gaddafi: Heavy with Gold, Light on Cash and Time


"Regime is likely to crumble within weeks; 155 tons of gold bars can't easily buy supplies."


Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's rule may end in weeks as international sanctions starve him of funds and rebels and NATO-led forces cut off fuel shipments, said Mr. Farhat Bengdara, who ran Libya's central bank before defecting.

The Gaddafi government had US$500M in cash at the end of February, when Mr. Bengdara fled, the former banker said in Dubai yesterday.

"It's almost run out," he said. "They have no fuel for tanks. It's a matter of weeks" before Gaddafi is forced out of power, he said.

As a sign finances are being squeezed, Gaddafi's government has asked commercial banks to hand over whatever hard currency they have, Mr Bengdara said. Four top bank managers have defected, he said, though he declined to name them to protect their families. The regime also has 155 tons of gold bars that can't easily be used to pay for supplies, he said.

NATO planes are monitoring movement on the ground, and as a result, the Gaddafi regime "tried to import fuel by any means, but they couldn't," he added.

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