Tracking Saddam's Billions

<b>Steve Kroft</b> Reports Saddam's Hidden Stash Includes U.S. Holdings

Should he flee an allied invasion, life on the lam would be pretty cushy for Saddam Hussein.

According to a financial investigator interviewed by CBS 60 Minutes Correspondent Steve Kroft, the value of the Iraqi dictator's holdings stashed around the world is expected to grow by $2.5 billion this year.

Financial sleuth John Fawcett tells 60 Minutes that his investigation of wealth controlled by Saddam Hussein found assets estimated at between $10 and $20 billion, mostly skimmed from the sales of Iraqi oil. His holdings include American magazines, such as Elle, Car and Driver and Woman's Day, through stock owned in a parent company, which was first reported by 60 Minutes in 1991. Those shares are now frozen.

It's money that really belongs to all Iraqis, but Hussein controls it, "directed to wherever Saddam wants to direct it. It could be his own bank account, his nest egg if he gets chased out of Iraq."

The assets are hidden but the source of the revenue is in the open. "This is oil and to smuggle any quantity of it, you can see it," says Fawcett. So it's no secret that trucks – in long lines clearly visible to the CIA – carry Iraqi oil into Turkey and Jordan while some gets piped into Syria, all against U.N. sanctions. What's not as well known, Fawcett says, is that Hussein also makes money from the U.N.-sanctioned Iraqi oil sales, revenues from which go in U.N. accounts to provide humanitarian aid for Iraqis.

"Most of the contracts appear to have kick-backs. If someone wants to get a contract with the Iraqi government, they have to kick money back into the Iraqi government – outside of the U.N. bank accounts," Fawcett tells Kroft.

The kickbacks have reportedly kept Western oil companies from buying the U.N.- sanctioned oil directly from Iraq, so Hussein uses middlemen, says Fawcett. "[Companies] are established just to buy Iraqi oil and kick back money to it. Some are out of Liechtenstein, Switzerland."

Switzerland, with its banking privacy laws, is where much of Hussein's money is probably hidden.

People in the Swiss government told 60 Minutes that they believe Hussein still has operatives in Geneva and that he has a secret financial network in place there. The Swiss official in charge of investigating such illegal assets has heard the rumors, but isn't convinced. "I heard information about some businessmen who were involved in dealings [with Iraq]…but for the moment, we have no confirmation," Jacques de Watteville tells Kroft.

Fawcett, however, is sure. "I don't think he's looking very hard. There's certainly a lot of activity in Switzerland vis-à-vis Iraq," he says.