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Robert Fisk: How the 19 billion 'dirty dinars' were...

 
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Sue S



Joined: 15 Jan 2004
Posts: 72
Location: UK

Post Post subject: Robert Fisk: How the 19 billion 'dirty dinars' were... Reply with quote

HOW THE 19 BILLION DIRTY DINARS' WERE QUICKLY CLEANED UP

ROBERT FISK IN BEIRUT


WHEN A private Lebanese jet arrived at Beirut International Airport packed with 19 billion new Iraqi dinars in banknotes (about pounds 6.5m), 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 US, 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 Ministry of Interior in Baghdad - suggests that the cash was being sent to Beirut with the full permission of US military authorities to be used to buy armoured vehicles for the American army from a British company. The three men aboard the cargo jet have told the Lebanese authorities that they were cleared to leave Iraq by American officials at the US base at Baghdad airport.

Nevertheless, the Lebanese state prosecutor, Adnan Addoum, arrested the three men and a Beirut exchange dealer, who is a relative of the former Lebanese president Amin Gemayel, and demanded an explanation from Iraq's Charge d'Affaires in Beirut, Tahseen Aina.

Mr Aina told Mr Addoum that the Iraqi Central Bank Governor was unaware of any such money transfer. So the four men, Mohamed Issam Abu Darwish - who stated openly that he was undertaking business operations on behalf of the US authorities in Iraq - Richard Jreisati, a former Phalangist militia official in Lebanon, Mazen Bsat, the owner of the plane, and Michel Mukattaf, who runs an exchange company in Lebanon, were all held by the authorities.

Then two days ago, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior - which is, in effect, run by American officials working for the US proconsul in Iraq, Paul Bremer - sent a fax to the Lebanese government stating that the money was being legally transferred for the "urgent purchase" from a British company of armoured vehicles and "sophisticated equipment intended to confront the dangerous security situation in Iraq".

All four men arrested by the Lebanese were freed, although the Beirut authorities have ordered the men on the plane to surrender their passports until they receive a letter from the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs explaining why so large an amount of money was being sent to Britain via Lebanon. The British company was not named.

In Baghdad, meanwhile, several hundred Iraqis protested in front of Bremer's offices to demand the resignation of the US-appointed interior minister, Nouri Badrane, accusing him of "corruption" for allowing 19 billion Iraqi dinars to be transferred out of the country.

The new notes have just replaced the old dinar notes that carried a portrait of Saddam Hussein's head. Those have been declared worthless by the occupation powers in Iraq.

In Iraq, however, there have been widespread claims from Western businessmen that the American authorities and the Iraqi officials who work for them - not the businessmen with whom they deal - are guilty of fraud. Several have told The Independent that Iraqi sub-contractors are being asked to give cash commissions of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of any contract awarded to them to one of five Americans working in the city.

In Iran, meanwhile, the authorities have been trying to find out how up to 200 earth-moving vehicles have turned up for sale in southern Iranian cities. The vehicles appear to have been sent across the border from Iraq and were originally intended to be part of a rebuilding programme. Several non-governmental organisations in Iraq have complained that millions of dollars of aid intended to help rebuild the country have gone missing.
Wed Jan 21, 2004 11:48 am
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David C
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Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 234
Location: Southampton

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting Fisk's article, Sue.

However...... I would have suggested posting it in the UK printed media section.

Smile

cheers,
David C
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David Cromwell
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Wed Jan 21, 2004 10:59 pm
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Sue S



Joined: 15 Jan 2004
Posts: 72
Location: UK

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

David C wrote:
Thanks for posting Fisk's article, Sue.

However...... I would have suggested posting it in the UK printed media section.

Smile

cheers,
David C


Razz

Laughing

Sue Smile
Thu Jan 22, 2004 11:58 am
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sau
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Many thanks for that Sue.

Excellent article.

Cheers,

sau.
Thu Jan 22, 2004 3:31 pm
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