Anyone know anything about larger watercraft and their going prices? There is something a lot deeper here than some Iraqui-born US businessman selling his product to Sadam!
Something Fishy Here…
Six of these craft for 11-mil? The engines alone to power an “85-ft high-speed armored patrol boat” that is seaworthy would exceed the price. Too bad the “businessman” got burned for 3-mil when the military action finally got underway. 😉 This smells like a lot more than a mere business deal.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 — American officials in Baghdad have identified at least 30 businesses and individuals in the United States that investigators said they suspect sold tens of millions of dollars in military technology to Iraq before the war.
Atop the list of suspects identified in the wide-ranging investigation is a father-and-son team from San Diego charged Wednesday with selling gunboats to Saddam Hussein’s government. Officials said they believed that the two San Diego businessmen, both of Iraqi descent, delivered and helped to assemble three 85-foot-long patrol boats, armed with machine guns, as part of an $11 million contract with Mr. Hussein’s military.
“Our information is that a number of these boats were actually deployed in combat operations around Basra” against American troops during fighting in Iraq, Michael T. Dougherty, director of operations for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which led the investigation, said Wednesday in an interview.
“It’s really a shock,” he said, “when you think about American residents dealing with an enemy regime in a time of war.”
The men, Sabri Yakou, 69, a permanent resident of the United States born in Iraq, and his son, Regard Yakou, 43, an engineer who is an American citizen, were charged with violating export laws in an indictment unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Washington. If convicted on the export violations, they would face 10 years in prison, but officials said they might face more serious charges, too. Lawyers for the men could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Dougherty and other officials said that immigration and customs agents, stationed in Baghdad since March, were investigating 30 cases in which a total of at least 30 different businesses and individuals in the United States were suspected of illegally providing Mr. Hussein’s government with military technology or items that had both military and civilian applications. He said the total value of those products reached “tens of millions” of dollars.
In an affidavit unsealed Wednesday in the case against Sabri and Regard Yakou, the authorities charged that the two men entered into an agreement with military officials in Iraq in 2000 to provide Mr. Hussein’s navy with six armored patrol boats in exchange for $11 million.
Documents showed that “each ship was to be designed as a high-speed, collision-resistant craft for patrol and intervention in both coastal waters and the open sea,” the affidavit said.
The Yakous used parts and supplies from Germany, Malaysia and Singapore to build the patrol boats, then visited Iraq from the United States to assist with their assembly, officials said. Three boats were completed, while the rest remained in Baghdad awaiting completion, officials said. Sabri Yakou, who runs a company called P. T. Gulf International, was still owed $3 million for the order when Mr. Hussein’s government was overthrown, officials said.
In a letter that the elder Mr. Yakou wrote to Iraqi military officials three years ago, he explained that his motivation for the deal was “to serve this Nation which is dear and loved by me” and to help train the Iraqi people in new technology, according to the affidavit.
But the American authorities said the Yakous were aware that their dealings with Mr. Hussein’s government violated American laws. Indeed, officials said the two men told investigators in an interview two months ago that the embargo forced them to route their supplies through Jordan, slowing production.
A law enforcement official said Sabri Yakou turned himself in to the American authorities in Thailand and was arrested in Washington on Tuesday. After an initial court appearance on Wednesday, he was released pending trial. He will be monitored electronically.
His son was apprehended in Iraq and is scheduled to be returned to the United States in the coming days to face charges, officials said.
Investigators said they were still trying to trace the multinational movements and business dealings of the two men during the last few years. But they said they had determined that both Sabri Yakou and his son had homes in the San Diego area, and the son apparently moved to Walnut Creek in Northern California several years ago. The pair listed business affiliations in both northern California and Singapore.
J. C. Sutton, who runs a trading firm in the San Diego area in which Regard Yakou remains a minority owner, said he was shocked by the charges against his partner.
“This whole thing is very hard to believe,” said Mr. Sutton, who is manager of Intermarket Trading Company, which dealt in oil products but has been largely inactive for several years.
Dealing in patrol boats “definitely would not be considered part of his job description while he was here,” he said. “He had nothing but bad things to say about the Saddam regime and what they had done to Iraq. He never seemed like anything but a loyal, red-white-and-blue American to me.”
Mr. Sutton said that although he and Regard Yakou ended their active partnership in about 2001, Mr. Yakou returned to his office just a few months ago from Iraq — after the war ended — and pitched a new business deal to him.
Regard Yakou told Mr. Sutton that he was trying to put together capital to bid on infrastructure work in rebuilt Iraq, and he thought he had made significant inroads, Mr. Sutton said. “The last thing he said to me was that he needed money,” he said.