Asset and Resource Hoarding

British engineer murdered in French Alps ‘linked to Saddam’s £15m oil-for-food fraud’

By Ian Gallagher

PUBLISHED:17:59 EST, 3  November 2012| UPDATED:05:51 EST, 4 November 2012

 

 

The British engineer murdered in the French  Alps has been linked to a secret trust thought to contain up to £15 million in  illegal kickbacks to Saddam Hussein’s regime.

It was set up in the tax haven of  Liechtenstein and was one of hundreds the Iraqi tyrant and his cronies used  worldwide to hide money skimmed from the UN  oil-for-food programme,  according to intelligence sources.

Emails and mobile phone calls intercepted by  Swiss intelligence agency FIS and passed to their German counterparts suggest  that Saad Al-Hilli may have been about to access the money, or part of it,  shortly before he was killed.

Saad Al-Hilli, who worked on map-making satellites in his job at SSTL in Guildford. He was murdered in a suspected assassination while on holiday with his family in FranceFormer Iraqi President Saddam Hussein holds up a gun in 1991

Saad Al-Hilli (left), who worked on map-making  satellites in his job at SSTL in Guildford. He was murdered in a suspected  assassination while on holiday with his family in France. Former Iraqi President  Saddam Hussein (right) holds up a gun in 1991

Mr Al-Hilli, 50, from Surrey, his wife  Iqbal, 47, his mother-in-law and a French cyclist were shot dead in a  lay-by  near Lake Annecy in eastern France in September.

French police have been left baffled by the  slaughter, in which Mr Al-Hilli’s seven-year-old daughter Zainab was badly  injured and her four-year-old sister Zeena was traumatised.

Located between Switzerland and Austria, the  tiny principality of Liechtenstein is a four-hour drive from where the Al-Hilli  family were staying.

Sources told The Mail on Sunday that the  emails suggested Iraqi-born Mr Al-Hilli – who has also been linked to a Swiss  account containing £840,000 – was about to receive further instructions from  Baghdad. However, either they did not materialise or were not  intercepted.

While sketchy, the claims raise questions  about whether the killers knew or suspected Mr Al-Hilli had access to large  deposits of cash.

There have been reports that  his late  father, Kadhim, was once close to Saddam’s Ba’ath Party  but fell foul of  the tyrant in the Seventies, and fled Iraq for Britain. Alternatively, it has  been suggested this was a smokescreen and that Kadhim’s true role was to manage  secret accounts for the regime.

Aerial photo of the car at the murder scene in the forrest near Chevaline and Lake Annecy in the French Alps 

Aerial photo of the car at the murder scene in the  forrest near Chevaline and Lake Annecy in the French Alps

The oil-for-food programme was supposed to  allow Iraq to buy food and other essential supplies with the proceeds of  regulated oil sales.

US investigators later discovered that  Saddam’s regime made billions of pounds from selling oil to neighbouring states,  and through kickbacks and illegal surcharges.

David Aufhauser, former counsel to the US  Treasury, who led the global hunt for Saddam’s assets until 2004, said  yesterday: ‘Billions were unaccounted for and most of it was hidden  abroad.’

German investigators have told French  intelligence services about the Liechtenstein trust.

Last week it was claimed that Mr Al-Hilli had  access to a Geneva account in the name of his father.

Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud confirmed the  Al-Hillis’ financial affairs and Iraq connections were at the top of  investigators’ agenda.

But he said he knew ‘absolutely nothing’  about any links with Liechtenstein, and denied German or Swiss intelligence had  provided important information.

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