Former Richardson resident Richard Chichakli -- alleged accountant to the world’s biggest reputed arms dealer -- dropped us a line this morning to say that he has “escaped Syria” and is now residing safely in Moscow. Readers of the paper version of Unfair Park may remember Chichakli’s story. The way he tells it, federal agents burst into his Richardson home one April morning in 2005 without warning. With guns drawn and helicopters hovering overhead, they searched his house. "They woke my wife and child with the muzzle of a gun," Chichakli told us.
Not far away, another group of federal agents, representing the U.S. Treasury Department and the F.B.I., were raiding Chichakli's office on North Central Expressway. From a locked safe, Chichakli says, they seized more than $500,000 in valuables, including a boxful of diamonds and a stack of $1,000 bills.
Why? Chichakli says he still doesn’t know, as the U.S. government has refused to say anything about its case against him.
"The accusers are 'unknown,' the charges are 'classified,' and the evidence is 'secret.' This is about fighting a ghost and dealing with the government manipulation of the laws," Chichakli writes on his Web site, where he has posted many of the court documents filed in the case.
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Chichakli insists that he is the victim of a witch hunt perpetrated by the U.S. government and that he is nothing more than a "boring accountant." But as we reported last December, there are allegations that Chichakli, who lived in Richardson for 19 years, was actually an accountant to Victor Bout, who is widely regarded as the world's most notorious gun-runner. Bout has sold guns to the Taliban and African warlords, according to U.S. and British intelligence agencies.
The raid of Chichakli's home and office on April 26, 2005 was the result of a two-year investigation into his relationship with Bout. On that day, the U.S. government announced economic sanctions against those that did business with Bout. As a result, Chichakli's assets were frozen. He could no longer open a bank account, get a job or do any sort of business in the United States because of his alleged relationship with Bout.
To date, the U.S. government has not made any of its allegations against Chichakli public. He filed a lawsuit against the government to force them to give up the evidence they have against him, but he says he has so far been stymied in each of his efforts to return to the life he once had in Richardson.
“The government defense team keeps-on bringing reasons to delay the trial, and we are about the same place we started last year,” Chichakli says. “ I used to believe that justice delayed is justice denied, but as your [original] article says, we are living the era of secret justice.” --Jesse Hyde