Queenstown businesses won’t follow red-faced pop star Beyonce and give away cash they got from Lybian tyrant Colonel Gaddafi’s family to charity.
Gaddafi’s second-oldest son Saif and his entourage spent up lavishly during a five-day visit to the resort 15 months ago.
Former Western-friendly Saif – who befriended Prince Andrew and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair – has turned villain during the Libyan people’s uprising, and may face war crimes charges.
Saif last month promised his father’s 41-year-long regime will “fight to the last minute, until the last bullet” and threatened “rivers of blood” if people turned against him.
Embarrassed superstars Beyonce and Nelly Furtado are now diverting millions they made performing for the Gaddafi family to charity.
The London School of Economics – which graduated Saif with a doctorate – is so embarrassed at a half-million dollar gift that it’s applying the money to a scholarship for North African students.
During his Queenstown visit, Saif paid Botswana Butchery restaurant for exclusive use of an outdoor area to watch New Year’s Eve fireworks, after dining there.
Mountain Scene understands he paid thousands of dollars.
Asked if that money should now go to charity, like the quake appeal, restaurant company boss Russell Gray responds: “Don’t be too tough on us.
“Hindsight’s a great visionary tool. We don’t advocate the oppression that’s going on in Libya and we would probably like to see the United Nations coming for dinner rather than Gaddafi.”
Gray notes that Saif and his entourage were allowed into New Zealand by Immigration and Customs.
“If they’re allowed into the country, I don’t think we should have any other view than to be as courteous and hospitable as we can be.”
Saif’s group went on that night to Good Group’s upmarket Barmuda bar. One of Saif’s henchmen asked for the company of “beautiful blondes – no fat ones. We buy them drinks, we will look after them”.
At the time, bouncer Regan Pearce said he was tipped “very well” to secure exclusive use of the lounge.
Local Jenny Hodgson, who enjoyed their generous hospitality without knowing at the time who was calling the shots, says she now feels “very weird” about Saif.
“They all just seemed very friendly, but the room was dark.”
Kiwi Haka owner Norm Ruru says the group paid him about $1000 to perform a Maori ‘welcome’ on the airport tarmac, before they flew out.
“[Saif] was quite polite, he said ‘hello’ to everybody and ‘thank you very much’. I feel sorry for the folks who have been ruled by those people for 40-odd years.”
He wouldn’t consider handing the money to charity, saying he used it to pay staff and “there’s not much profit in what I do”.
“I’ve already given to the Christchurch earthquake,” he adds.