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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 August, 2004, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Chalabi disputes fraud conviction
Ahmed Chalabi in Tehran, 10 August 2004
Ahmed Chalabi fell out of favour with Washington
Embattled Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi is challenging a conviction for fraud issued against him by a Jordanian court in 1992.

A case was filed on Mr Chalabi's behalf as he returned to Iraq, where he faces arrest on new counterfeiting charges.

He was convicted in absentia for embezzlement in connection with the collapse of Petra Bank in 1990.

Mr Chalabi says the fraud claim and the new charges of counterfeiting are politically motivated smear campaigns.

His lawyer, John Markham, filed the case against the Jordanian government and the Central Bank of Jordan on Wednesday.

Mr Chalabi established the private Petra Bank in Jordan in the late 1980s, with the help of the brother of King Hussein, Crown Prince Hassan.

It became one of Jordan's leading banks before it collapsed in 1990 with millions in missing deposits amid allegations of financial impropriety by Mr Chalabi, later leading to his conviction for embezzlement.

The new case accuses the Jordanian government of a conspiracy dating back to 1989 to steal Petra Bank from Chalabi, strip it of assets and then blame the former Iraqi exile for its ruin.

Mr Markham said it was filed in Washington because Petra Bank did much business there and had a US subsidiary.

Mr Chalabi has always said he was innocent and claimed he was framed by Iraqi and Jordanian officials.

Fake dinars

Mr Chalabi - once tipped as a possible future Iraqi president - said he would return to Baghdad to clear his name, as well as to take part in a planned national convention on Iraq's future.

He was in Iran for a conference when an Iraqi judge issued arrest warrants for him and his nephew, Salem Chalabi.

Ahmed Chalabi is accused of counterfeiting old Iraqi dinars, which were removed from circulation after Saddam Hussein fell from power, and changing them into new dinars.

He has said he collected the fake currency as part of his role as chairman of the now abolished Governing Council's finance committee.

He flew into Baghdad on Wednesday afternoon.

Murder charge

Salem Chalabi, the head of the tribunal trying former leader Saddam Hussein, is sought on suspicion of murder.

Speaking in London on Monday, he said he feared for his life and wanted assurances about his safety before returning to Iraq.

He is accused of murder over the death in June of Haithem Fadhil, director-general of the Iraqi finance ministry.

Salem Chalabi, 41, has described the murder charge as "ridiculous" and "crazy", telling the BBC he had no recollection of ever meeting the dead man.




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