NEW YORK — Saddam Hussein has diverted as much as 5% of Iraq's oil earnings for his own use and has successfully hidden his fortune in an intricate web of foreign assets, a broadcast report said Sunday.
The CBS news program "60 Minutes" quoted a private investigator, hired by Kuwait to look into Hussein's wealth, as saying the Iraqi leader has taken as much as $11 billion from his country's oil earnings alone.
"This is an organized crime activity that has been going on for . . . a long time," said Jules Kroll, a New York-based investigator hired by the Kuwaiti government, which charges that Iraq plundered the desert kingdom after invading last August.
Kroll said Iraqi leaders have set up a "network outside the country that has vast, vast assets."
"We have uncovered Iraqi front companies stretching from Italy to France to Germany to the Channel Islands to the U.K.," as well as the United States, Kroll said.
Hussein's financial empire is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and is run by his half-brother, Barzan Altakriti, the program reported.
Kroll said that among Hussein's holdings are a Panamanian-registered company called Montana Management, which owns 8.4% of the French media conglomerate Hachette, the owner of such popular magazines as Elle, Woman's Day, Car and Driver and Road and Track, Kroll said. Altakriti denied his family had any interests in Montana Management.
Kroll also said the government of Jordan has helped shield some of Hussein's assets.