President Jacob Zuma
President Jacob Zuma

Former South African President Jacob Zuma has refuted claims that he is keeping millions of dollars belonging to late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Zuma on Wednesday said the fake news puts his life at risk because he would end up in jail and face U.S. sanctions if the allegations over Gaddafi’s millions proved to be true.The Sunday Times newspaper reported last week there was evidence suggesting that Zuma had previously hidden Gaddafi’s millions of dollars in the former’s homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal Province.

The report claimed that the money was moved secretly earlier this year to the Kingdom of Swaziland, now known as Eswatini. Swazi King Mswati III confirmed the existence of the money to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last week during a meeting at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, the report said.

In a statement distributed by his foundation, Zuma said he would take legal action against the Sunday Times. Zuma accused the newspaper of doing what others from foreign countries do who want to put his life at risk by spreading these reports. The report prompted the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) to urge Ramaphosa to help recover Gaddafi’s hidden fortune estimated at 420 million rand (about 30 million U.S. dollars).

The missing money reportedly is of keen interest to several parties, including the U.S. authorities. There are possible violations of sanctions associated with the money, as well as the contravention of foreign exchange controls.

South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu has also denied the allegation that Gaddafi’s missing money was once hidden in South Africa. She labelled the claims “ghost stories.” “This is very much like a ghost story.

If you believe in a ghost you will see a ghost, but you will never be able to touch it. This is a story that has been circulating for many, many years,” Sisulu said. “There is no money in Swaziland. There is no money that we’re aware of. And I speak honestly as a Minister of International Relations and Cooperation,” she said.However, the minister said her department would probe the allegations.

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