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60 Egyptian firms out $600 million for goods sold to Saddam

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

CAIRO Egypt is seeking to receive either payment or the return of nearly $1 billion worth of goods sold to the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Officials said the government of President Hosni Mubarak has launched a search for more than $600 million worth of exports to Iraq over the past year. They said the fate of 60 Egyptian companies hang in the balance.

Egypt was one of the biggest exporters to Iraq in a series of deals over the last two years, Middle East Newsline reported. One of the deals called for the export of Iraqi oil to Egypt for its resale to the foreign market.

So far, Egyptian attorneys have sued Saddam for about $50 million in compensation for an order of television sets and satellite dishes. The suit charges Saddam and Information Minister Mohammed Sahaf with providing false reports of Iraqi victories that deceived Egyptian investors in Iraq.

Nabil Farid Hassanin, chairman of Egypt's Engineering Industries, said the government plans to submit an urgent report on the fate of the Egyptian exports. He said the largest firms in Egypt were dealing with Iraq.

Hassanin said Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Obeid has been authorized to search for the exports. Obeid is said to have established contact with unspecified institutions and people in Iraq.

Officials said Egypt has no idea where the exports are. They said the issue would be raised with the United States as part of an effort to win contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq.

The Egyptian exports to Iraq included electronic products, industrial components and raw material. But documents found in Baghdad by journalists included an Egyptian agreement for the supply of a wireless communications system for $155,000 to Iraq's domestic intelligence agency.

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