Yesterday we wrote about Richard Chichakli, alleged accountant to the “Merchant of Death” (arms dealer Viktor Bout), and how he’d really like to return to his hum-drum life as a soccer dad in Richardson. This morning, we received an e-mail from Douglas Farah, the globe-trotting journalist who’s covered everything from the rise and fall of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar to the civil wars in Sierra Leone, in which he informs us that, contrary to Chichakli’s claims “the evidence against him is not secret. It is pretty well laid out in the court filings.” (Farah, who has lived the life most journalists dream of, now focuses on terror finance and national security issues).
Turns out that yesterday here in Dallas, U.S. District Judge David Godbey dismissed Chichakli’s claims that the U.S. government had acted improperly when agents from the U.S. Treasury Department and F.B.I. raided Chichakli’s home and office in April 2005 and froze his assets. Those actions, according to Godbey’s order signed yesterday (which you can read in its entirety here), stemmed from a July 2004 executive order signed by President Bush that imposed economic sanctions against those who were contributing to the chaos and unrest in Liberia, including Viktor Bout -- “who is widely regarded as the head of an international arms trafficking network active in many of the world’s conflict regions.”
As we reported last year, Chichakli was both Bout’s friend (he once hoped their children would marry) and worked with him as an accountant. While Chichakli maintains he never had anything to do with Bout’s alleged arms trafficking, evidence gathered by the U.S. government says otherwise.
According to yesterday’s order, the U.S. Department of Treasury identified “thirty entitities and four individuals” which were part of Bout’s arms network, including Chichakli.
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As for his claims that the U.S. government violated due process is seizing Chichakli's assets, Godbey ruled yesterday that that claim is without merit, as are the others Chichakli has made in court. To read an article on Viktor Bout by Farah go here. --Jesse Hyde