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12 Indicted in Alleged Iraq Money-Laundering Scheme

A federal grand jury indicted 12 people on money-laundering charges for allegedly helping to funnel more than $12 million to Iraq in violation of sanctions imposed during the first Bush administration.

The indictment, unsealed Thursday, alleges that between April 2000 and January 2002, a ring of people throughout the United States collected money and sent it to a company called Alshafei Family Connect, based in the Seattle suburb Edmonds.

The company, owned and operated by Hussein Alshafei, an Iraqi native and naturalized U.S. citizen, then shipped the money to London and other overseas cities and eventually to Iraq, the indictment alleges.

The alleged actions violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the indictment states.

The indictment includes one count of conspiracy to launder money and 34 counts of money laundering. It charges people in Dallas, Phoenix, Nashville, Tenn., St. Louis, Roanoke, Va., London, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq.

Investigators say the money was sent from U.S. cities including New York, Seattle and suburban Lynnwood, and then on to England, India, Canada, Brazil, Taiwan, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE.

The funds eventually were forwarded to a business in Iraq called Al-Nour Trading, run by a man whose last name is Fakher and whose alias is Abu Haider, the indictment says.