Billions of dollars stashed away by the late Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi may be lost forever, experts say.
Gadhafi lived a somewhat modest lifestyle, but his children didn't and may have squirreled away part of the country's war chest, estimated to be between $33 billion and $60 billion.
"His children generally went a little bit off the rails and really enjoyed the high life," says Robert Powell, senior analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit, part of the Economist Group, according to ABC News.
(Getty Images photo)
Gadhafi often lived in tents, even when traveling abroad, while his children bought yachts and pricey properties worldwide.
Mansour El-Kikhia, a professor of political science at the University of Texas, San Antonio, agrees that Gadhafi's children helped themselves to the country's oil-rich cookie jar at will.
"They paid themselves out of government coffers and gave themselves official roles," Powell says of the Gadhafi family.
Daniel Serwer, a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, say Libya's new Transitional National Council could have a "very difficult" time regaining state assets, which are still being plundered before the dust settles.
"I can guarantee you right now someone is trying to privatize whatever assets are sitting in Libya's central bank, privatizing land, offices, and stealing computers. This is what goes on," Serwer says.
The source of the Gadhafi family's vast fortune, oil, won't return to normal capacity for years to come, experts say.
Prior to the war, Libya was pumping 1.6 million barrels of oil a day, although output fell to near zero during the uprising.
"We believe we will struggle to resume previous 1.6 million barrel-per-day levels even through 2014," Deutsche Bank analyst Paul Sankey writes in a research note, according to CNBC.
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