Federal agents seized $3 million deposited in a bank account by an Iraqi broker who the government says broke federal law by shipping aircraft parts from the United States to Libya.
The late Ihsan Barbouti wired the $3 million to Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. in New York to finance the illegal export of the aircraft parts, according to a federal complaint filed in New York.Barbouti was a London-based architect who designed a chemical weapons plant in Rabta, Libya. He died in London in July of heart and lung complications.
The Dallas Morning News reported Friday that last year Barbouti ordered parts identified in documents as replacement equipment for CH-47 Chinook helicopters, C-130 cargo planes and French-made Mirage jet fighters. They were shipped from Miami to Brazil, where a Barbouti associate then shipped the equipment to Libya, according to the complaint.
The seizure of assets stems from an ongoing U.S. Customs investigation. Federal investigators have been trying to unravel the intricate domestic holdings of the international middleman who described himself as a procurement broker for Col. Moammar Gadhafi's government in Libya.
Don de Gabrielle, a federal prosecutor in Houston, confirmed the Oct. 4 seizure of the $3 million, but he declined to say whether Barbouti's role in the parts transactions has been presented to a grand jury.
The News reported last month that the arms deal was part of a pattern of purchases and investments by Barbouti, apparently designed to divert American technology to Libya and Iraq.
Barbouti held interests in high-tech companies based in Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma, and Boca Raton, Fla., the newspaper reported.