The Qadaffi Family Fortune Ripples Far from Libya

Squatters seize a Qaddafi London mansion; Hollywood shuns Qaddafi movie money

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As Muammar Qaddafi's crackdown on rebel forces in Libya has turned increasingly bloody and invited international censure, the Qaddafi family's assets and business investments around the world--built up over the course of Qaddafi's four-decade rule--are increasingly coming under attack or being ostracized.

In London, a group called Topple the Tyrants has taken over a multi-million dollar mansion that Qaddafi's son, Saif, manages through a holding company. The squatters informed The Guardian that they don't trust British officials "to properly seize the Libyan government's corrupt and stolen assets" and that they would occupy the house "until such time as we are sure that [the property] can be returned to the Libyan people." In the meantime, the mansion's many flatscreen TVs are all tuned into al-Jazeera. While the four-level house has its own swimming pool, sauna, and cinema, the squatters told the Daily Mail that they're not there to "luxuriate," though the paper did catch one protester sleeping on one of many plush white couches.

One neighbor told The Guardian that his fellow Hampstead residents had qualms about living near Saif even though Qaddafi's son "became a very acceptable figure among the British high society and political echelons."

In Hollywood, the entertainment industry is suddenly spurning Natural Selection--a film production company supported financially by Qaddafi's other son, Saadi--and its producer, Matthew Beckerman. The New York Times reports that Beckerman's name was deleted from the credits of a documentary on the South by Southwest festival's website and that one talent agency initially reported to be a partner in an upcoming Natural Selection crime film has since distanced itself from the project.

The Times interviews two people who have worked closely with Beckerman and met Saadi, and notes that "neither expressed qualms about past allegations that Libya had backed terrorists or abused its people. Both pointed out that Hollywood had routinely welcomed investors whose peripheral connections might not be the purest."

The trend has appeared in the music industry, too. Stars such as Nelly Furtado, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, and Usher have announced plans to donate the money the Qaddafi regime paid them for performances.

Yet while the international community has frozen many of the Libyan government's assets in an effort to drive the elder Qaddafi from power, the Times reports that the Libyan leader has “tens of billions” in cash stowed away in Tripoli's banks and possibly his own compound--money that allows him to pay his security forces and political supporters, lessen the blow of economic sanctions, and sustain his struggle against opposition forces.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.