The world may be able to seize embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi 's assets abroad, but it might be tougher knocking him off a pile of gold.
The Libyan central bank — controlled by Gadhafi himself — holds 143.8 tons of gold, The Financial Times reports, citing International Monetary Fund data.
Those reserves, among the top 25 in the world, are worth more than $6.5 billion at current prices, enough to finance a small army of mercenaries at least for a while.
Plus most of the gold is not stashed away in European vaults but is safe and sound in Libya itself.
"Before violence broke out the gold was stored at the central bank in Tripoli," the newspaper reports.
"But since then it may have been moved to another location, such as the southern city of Sebha — within reach of the borders with Chad and Niger."
Furthermore, Gadhafi could shuffle the gold to Chad or Niger, where it could be swapped for currency.
"If a country like Libya wants to make their gold liquid it would probably be in the form of a swap — whether for arms, food or cash," Walter de Wet, head of commodities research at Standard Bank, tells The Financial Times.
Gold prices are soaring to around $1,450 an ounce on unrest in Libya along with the Japanese natural disaster and troubles in Portugal.
"You either get Libya or you get oil or you get currency issues, and the market has just fed on that," says Ira Epstein, director of the Ira Epstein division of the Linn Group, a trading and asset management firm, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
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