The US Treasury Department has designated eight companies and five associated individuals as fronts for Iraq's former Ba'athist regime.
According to a press statement, the companies and individuals "were procuring weapons, skimming funds, operating for the Iraqi Intelligence Service, and doing business in support of the fallen Saddam Hussein regime."
Commenting upon the designated companies, US Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Samuel Bodman said, "One company played a key role in the former Iraqi regime's schemes to obtain illicit kickbacks on goods purchased through the UN Oil-For-Food Program -- a program intended to help Iraqi families -- and attempted to procure a sophisticated surface-to-air missile system. Another served as the commercial front for the Iraqi Intelligence Service. Yet another bilked religious Iranian pilgrims out of roughly $500 million each year and directed it right into the regime's coffers."
The statement named the Al-Wasel and Babel Company, which according to US sources, was controlled by, and acted for or on behalf of, senior officials of the former Iraqi regime, including Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hikmat Mizban Ibrahim Al-Azzawi. Information developed by the US government indicates Al-Wasel and Babel played a key role in the former Iraqi regime's schemes to obtain illicit kickbacks on goods purchased through the UN Oil-for-Food Program.
According to Bodman, the list of companies and individuals will be submitted to the UN with the recommendation that all member states freeze their assets and transfer them to the UN-administered Development Fund for Iraq, which manages the funds for reconstruction, administration and humanitarian assistance. — (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )