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Misplaced $10 Million Given Back to Brunei, With Interest

July 22, 1987|Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Brunei got its mislaid $10 million for contra aid back with interest but says it was meant for Central America's poor instead of the Nicaraguan rebels, the Malaysian national news agency said Tuesday.

Congressional investigators discovered last spring that the money had not gone as intended into a Credit Suisse bank account controlled by dismissed White House aide Lt. Col. Oliver L. North. It was found in a Swiss businessman's account.

Investigators said Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams had passed along the wrong account number to the Brunei government.

Brunei's foreign minister, Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, said that his brother, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, donated the money "at the suggestion of the United States for humanitarian assistance."

Testimony in Washington has indicated that Abrams asked the sultan for assistance because Congress had barred U.S. government aid to the contras fighting Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government.

Bernama, the news agency, quoted Awang Majid bin Abdul Rahim of Brunei's Foreign Ministry as denying that the aid was intended for the contras.

He was quoted as telling journalists of the Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations that the money was given at the U.S. government's request purely on humanitarian grounds, for the people of Central America rather than the rebels. Awang Majid said the money never was sent to Central America and "we got back the money with (bank) interest," the report said.

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