Federal authorities Wednesday charged four men with illegally transferring almost $3 million to Iraq. Three of the men are already in custody, with one still at large.
The indictment says the four men used a charity called "Help The Needy" to solicit contributions from people in the United States. According to federal authorities, the men deposited the funds in state of New York banks and transferred the money to Iraq via bank accounts maintained in Amman, Jordan.
On its website, the "Help the Needy" organization says it raises money to help poor children in Iraq. It maintained a U.S. post office box in Syracuse New York.
U.S. Attorney Glenn Suddaby explained that the transfers violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. "The defendants conspired to violate executive orders and Treasury Department regulations by transferring funds and other economic resources to one or more persons in Iraq," he said. "Executive orders 127-22 and 127-24 have been in effect since August of 1990, and are commonly referred to as the Iraqi Sanctions Regulations."
Mr. Suddaby says the arrests are the result of three years of investigation, and involved the help of many organizations, including the New York Police Department, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Customs, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The four men, Rafil Dhafir, Maher Zagha, Ayman Jarwan, and Osameh Al Wahaidy, either live or have lived in the United States. The men face up to 265 years in jail and fines of more than $14 million each if convicted.