Maybe He Found Gaddafi’s Billions. Or Maybe It’s All a Giant Scam.
Libya’s dictator hid a fortune. One man told the U.S. that he’s authorized to get the money, which would entitle him to a giant finder’s fee. Nevermind the forgery accusations.
In August 2014, Erik Iskander Goaied formed a company to locate what he claims are $150 billion or more in U.S. currency, gold, diamonds, and other assets. This is the loot that Libyan dictator that Muammar Gaddafi had squirreled away outside of Libya before he was deposed in 2011. Goaied claims to have a contract with the Libyan government that lets him keep 10 percent of what he finds, which means that if he locates even a fraction of the money he insists is sitting in bank accounts, as well as warehouses, around the world, he will instantly become a billionaire.Lots of people have been looking for this money. The Libyan government has tried for years to repatriate assets that Gaddafi either deposited or laundered outside the country. Investigators think they’ve found much of it already in banks in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany, and those funds have been frozen.Goaied, for his part, insists that he found $12.5 billion in Gaddafi’s cash sitting on pallets in a Johannesburg, South Africa airplane hangar a few years ago. And that, Goaied says, is just a taste of what he can find and bring home to a country that’s been wrecked by civil war and decades of Gaddafi’s corruption. His finder’s fee will be a comparative pittance.Libya sorely needs the cash. The country is arguably a failed state, with rival factions in the capital, Tripoli, and the eastern city of Tobruk vying for control. Whoever ends up running Libya will need billions to rebuild the country. If Goaied were legitimate, he could be Libya’s next hero.
And legitimacy is exactly what Goaied wants. Three months after he started his company, called the Washington African Consulting Group, Goaied registered with the Justice Department as an agent of the “Libyan Government Prime Minister’s Office,” claiming that he’s working in the United States trying to help the people of Libya recover what’s rightly theirs. (He first came to my attention when I was reviewing recent registrations, which are publicly disclosed. I contacted Goaied through his Web site and he agreed to meet with me.)