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By New Times Staff
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Early in the first interview, Gaffney presses Hashim for details of a $500 dinner and a subsequent trip to Las Vegas, where he spent the New Year's holiday at the Mirage Hotel. That foray came eight weeks after Hashim's bankruptcy disclosure statement claimed he had no assets, no cash, no debts, no job.
"Did you gamble?" Gaffney asks.
"I played some slot machines," Hashim replies. "I put some $20 in, and I won $500."
For an awfully long time, luck has seemed to be on Jawad Hashim's side.
Hashim claims he is innocent of any wrongdoing in regard to the multimillion-dollar losses the Arab Monetary Fund suffered more than a decade ago.
He says the losses--some $50 million--stemmed from legitimate currency and metals trading conducted by the fund during the time he was its director--1977 to 1982. Hashim says the monetary fund is trying to rewrite history, belatedly, and falsely, claiming he was not authorized to conduct the trades on the fund's behalf.
Actually, Hashim claims, he and his family, not the Arab Monetary Fund, are the true victims. Like thousands of others, Hashim says, he has become a target of Saddam Hussein's vengeance.
On the surface, Hashim's story--that he is being relentlessly hounded by the ruthless Saddam--seems plausible. Since departing Iraq, Hashim has helped other Iraqi officials defect, made public statements about Hussein's hidden wealth and Iraq's nuclear weapons program and testified before Congress about the Iraqi dictator.
Beneath the heroic story that Hashim spins is another story, a long, painstakingly documented history of deception, forgery and illegal movement of money around the world.
First, though, Hashim's version of events, pieced together from interviews, court documents and press accounts:
Hashim met Saddam Hussein while teaching at a Baghdad university where Saddam was studying law. The men became friends and Hashim rose to power on Saddam's coattails. Beginning in 1968, Hashim enjoyed the financial extravagances associated with being a close confidant and adviser to Saddam.
"When I was Saddam Hussein's minister of economics, I was paid about $200,000 a year, but that was really pocket money. Everything was paid for--cars, apartments, servants, food, everything," Hashim told the London Daily Mail, a British tabloid newspaper, in December.
In 1977, Saddam nominated Hashim as the first director-general of the Arab Monetary Fund, an agency created by 22 Arab countries to finance development projects in Middle Eastern nations lacking substantial oil income. His nomination was accepted, and Hashim and his wife moved to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to oversee the fund's operation.
Hashim claims in court documents that during his five-year term as director of the Arab Monetary Fund, his relationship with Hussein soured. Many of Hashim's colleagues, and many other Hussein advisers, were executed during that period.
"On [Hashim's] last trip to Iraq before his term as director-general expired, Dr. Hashim himself was detained for three days by the Iraqi Intelligence Service for alleged political criticism of Saddam Hussein," court records say.
Hashim says members of his wife's family were also executed by Hussein during that time.
Once his term at the Arab Monetary Fund expired in 1982, Hashim decided not to return to Iraq, despite Hussein's order that he do so. Hashim claims his refusal eventually resulted in a death warrant being issued by the Revolutionary Command Council. Subsequently, he says, there were kidnaping attempts.
Hashim claims those attempts were admitted by the Iraqi minister of finance in an address given in April 1984.
"From that point forward, Dr. Hashim has been pursued either directly by Iraq, or as a result of its influence," court records filed by Hashim's attorneys say.
For the next seven years, Hashim kept a low profile, moving to Switzerland, England and finally Canada, where he says he became a citizen. During this period, there is no record of Hashim speaking out against Hussein.
But in the months following the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Hashim burst onto the international media scene, telling television and newspapers that Hussein had diverted billions of dollars from Iraqi oil sales and was moving forward with a nuclear weapons program.
In March 1991, Ted Koppel interviewed Hashim on ABC's Nightline news program. Hashim claimed that Saddam kept some $4 billion in cash on hand at his presidential palace and had skimmed more than $30 billion in government funds.
Saddam took his money in various forms, Hashim said: percentage payments on oil deals; bribes from arms salesmen; and kickbacks from Japanese companies obtaining contracts in Iraq.
According to Hashim, Saddam used the money to buy weapons secretly and to pay for favors from foreign leaders. Hashim said some foreign leaders left Baghdad with briefcases containing as much as $1 million. One of Hashim's more embarrassing public recollections involved Saddam's wife, who supposedly paid $320 million for the jewelry collection of the wife of the late shah of Iran.
In July 1991, Hashim sent a memo detailing Saddam's financial diversions to then-president Bush and the United Nations. The memo came at a crucial time. The U.N. was considering the relaxation of an economic embargo against Iraq.
Hashim's memo said that Hussein began diverting 5 percent of Iraqi oil sales to Swiss banks beginning in 1972, and the diversions lasted until at least 1989, according to a Washington Post story. Hashim's memo said that Saddam and the other leaders of the ruling Baath Party "wanted to accumulate sufficient funds, held abroad, to be used to finance their return to power in the event the party was ousted by a coup, or if the country were invaded."
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