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Libya Invested Oil Wealth Around the World

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi gestures with a green cane as he takes his seat behind bulletproof glass for a military parade in Green Square, Tripoli, Libya, September 1, 2009 (file photo)

A new report says Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi deposited billions of dollars of the country's oil revenues in accounts at some of the largest Wall Street and European financial institutions.

Global Witness, a British advocacy group that campaigns against natural resource-related corruption, released a document Thursday it had obtained showing that Libya had stashed $53 billion in oil riches in accounts around the world at the end of June last year. The financial statement created for the Libyan Investment Authority showed that some of the wealth was held by such financial giants as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan in the U.S., HSBC Holdings in Britain, Societe Generale in France and Nomura in Japan.

The investment authority also deposited money in Libyan and Middle Eastern banks. It invested in U.S. government bonds and some of the world's best known companies, including General Electric, oil companies Halliburton and BP and the communications firm Nokia.

A large portion of Libya's assets has been frozen under international sanctions since February, as NATO warplanes started carrying out air raids against Gadhafi's forces.

Global Witness said the Gadhafi family has "significant personal control" over state funds, but with the financial sanctions, it is not known how much of the assets Gadhafi actually controls at the moment. The advocacy group noted that a prosecutor at the International Criminal Court says that Gadhafi "makes no distinction" between his personal assets and state resources.

None of the financial institutions would confirm that they hold Libya's wealth, with several saying details of the accounts are confidential. Global Witness said it is "completely absurd" that the financial institutions can claim secrecy when the assets are owned by the Libyan people.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.