The Treasury Department on Monday accused Saddam Hussein of using a global network of agents and phony companies to funnel arms and cash back to Iraq in defiance of a U.N. embargo.
Named in the Treasury report were 52 companies in 17 countries throughout the Middle East, Europe and the United States, plus 37 suspected Iraqi agents and 160 cargo vessels.The companies named in the report include Iraqi Airways, two multinational banks, a host of engineering and shipping firms and an Italian business that manufactures sewing machines.
"Exposing these companies and individuals strikes a blow at Iraq's subterranean network in the world of arms trading and clandestine financial operations," said John Robson, deputy treasury secretary.
Transactions with any of the businesses or accused agents named in the report will now be prohibited under the existing embargo and asset freeze instituted by presidential order last summer.
Violators could face fines of up to $1 million per person or per company as well as up to 12 years in prison.
More than half the companies named were based in the United Kingdom, with other Iraqi-controlled businesses in Jordan, Italy, Germany, Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Honduras and Egypt.
Just two of the accused companies were located in the United States - Bay Industries Inc. in Santa Monica, Calif., and Matrix Churchill Corp. in Cleveland.
Accused agents also were scattered throughout the world, with 13 in the United Kingdom, 10 in Jordan, seven in Brazil and others in Germany, Italy and the People's Republic of China.
The Treasury report came on the heels of a report on CBS's "60 Minutes" that charged the Iraqi president had skimmed billions of dollars from Iraq's oil earnings for his own use and hidden the fortune in an intricate web of foreign assets.
The CBS report said the financial empire owns 8.4 percent of the French media conglomerate Hachette SA and has been controlled by Saddam's half-brother, who lives in Switzerland.
Half of the 52 companies named were based in the United Kingdom, with other Iraqi-controlled businesses in Jordan, Italy, Germany, Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Honduras and Egypt. Just two were located in the United States - Bay Industries Inc. in Santa Monica, Calif., and Matrix Churchill Corp. in Cleveland.