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3/30/03 - FREEZING IRAQ’S ASSETS - 2003-03-31


The U.S.-led coalition is now in Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and to destroy his weapons of mass destruction.

The U.S. has also started an initiative to identify and return Iraqi state assets, as well as Saddam Hussein’s ill-gotten gains, so that they can be dedicated to the benefit of the Iraqi people. As part of this effort, the U.S. government took control of more than one-billion dollars in non-diplomatic Iraqi accounts in the U.S. President George W. Bush said that the funds will be used to assist the Iraqi people and to assist the reconstruction of Iraq.

“Iraq's liberation would be the beginning, not the end, of our commitment to its people. We will supply humanitarian relief, bring economic sanctions to a swift close, and work for the long-term recovery of Iraq's economy. We'll make sure that Iraq's natural resources are used for the benefit of their owners, the Iraqi people.” President Bush called on other nations to step forward and join the U.S. As Treasury Secretary John Snow said, other countries should “identify and freeze all assets of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi regime, and their agents.” Mr. Snow also said that the U.S. is “directing a worldwide hunt for the blood money that Saddam Hussein and his cronies have stolen from the Iraqi people.”

Saddam Hussein and his family control billions of dollars that rightfully belongs to the Iraqi people. Members of the government and top military and security officials are given extra food rations, expensive automobiles, and cash stipends. Money for Saddam was skimmed from the sale of oil and also came from kickbacks on contracts with foreign companies. The funds were used to pay off Saddam’s supporters and to build lavish palaces, rather than on meeting the humanitarian needs of Iraqi men, women, and children. Saddam has even used water pumps, piping, and other supplies that could have been used to repair water systems in order to construct moats and canals at his palaces.

“The world,” said Treasury Secretary Snow, “must find, freeze, and return Iraqi money for the Iraqi people and their future. This effort will ensure that the assets and funds belonging to the Iraqi people are dedicated to the wellbeing and benefit of their nation.”

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