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Lawyer: Gov’t Agents OK’d Funds

November 14, 2001

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ Government agents found nothing wrong in the financial records of an Ohio businessman more than a year before his company was closed amid allegations that it funded terrorists, the man’s attorney said Tuesday.

Attorney Kevin O’Brien said Hassan H. Hussein, 46, appeared under subpoena before a federal grand jury in Columbus in June 2000 to answer questions about his business, Barakaat Enterprises.

``He could have refused to answer any questions, but he didn’t,″ said O’Brien, who attended the grand jury proceeding with Hussein.

The IRS and the U.S. attorney’s office refused to discuss the case. Documents from the grand jury proceedings are sealed. Hussein has denied wrongdoing and no charges have been filed against him.

For the past three years, Hussein has operated a hawala, in which immigrants, most often Somalis, send money to relatives in their homelands.

O’Brien said he and Hussein, a Somali immigrant, went over the business’ financial records with Internal Revenue Service agents at the hearing after they became concerned about a couple of large wire transfers from a bank in Columbus to one in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

Federal agents raided Barakaat Enterprises last week, along with similar businesses in Boston, Minneapolis and Seattle.

The Bush administration identified the businesses as being connected to the Al-Barakaat financial network, which is accused of funding Osama bin Laden’s terrorist operation through fees on its money transfer services.

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