Al-Arab Blog - مدونة العرب
US military authorized transfer of 19bn new Iraqi dinars
By Robert Fisk
01/30/04: (Hi Pakistan) BEIRUT: When a private Lebanese jet recently arrived at Beirut International Airport packed with 19 billion new Iraqi dinars in bank-notes - around 12 million US dollars - the authorities immediately impounded the aircraft and arrested the three men aboard. It was a coup that seemed likely to earn the favour of the United States which has for years been threatening Lebanon with financial sanctions if it allows dirty money to cross its frontiers.
But an astonishing series of revelations - including a faxed message from the American-appointed Iraqi 'interior ministry' in Baghdad - suggests that the cash was being sent to Beirut with the full permission of US military authorities to be transferred by a Lebanese exchange dealer - and then used to buy armoured vehicles for the American army from a British company. The three men aboard the cargo jet - which had been stripped of seats to enable the 21 boxes of new banknotes to be put aboard - have told the Lebanese authorities that they were cleared to leave Iraq by American officials at the tightly controlled US base at Baghdad airport.
Nevertheless, the Lebanese state prosecutor Adnan Addoum - Lebanese law is modelled on French Napoleonic law - refused to believe the story, arrested the three men and a Beirut exchange dealer who is a relative of former Lebanese president Amin Gemayel, and demanded an explanation from Iraq's Charge d'affaires in Beirut, Tahseen Aina.
Mr Aina immediately told Mr Addoum that the Iraqi Central Bank governor was unaware of any such money transfer. So the four men, Mohamed Issam Bu Darwish - who stated openly that he was undertaking business operations on behalf of the US authorities in Iraq - "
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