Image: Ahmed Chalabi
Khalid Mohammed  /  AP
Ahmad Chalabi, a former banker who was convicted of embezzlement in absentia in Jordan, was a fierce opponent of Saddam Hussein.
By
NBC News Investigative Unit
updated 8/28/2007 8:25:38 PM ET 2007-08-29T00:25:38

A U.S. federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit that Ahmad Chalabi, an Iraqi politician and businessman, filed against the government of Jordan more than a decade after his criminal conviction on bank fraud charges.

Chalabi, a former banker and mathematician who was convicted of embezzlement in absentia in Jordan in 1992, sued the government of Jordan in 2004 in a Washington, D.C., federal court, alleging he had been wrongfully convicted.

The Jordanian authorities took over Chalabi's bank, Petra Bank, in 1989, citing massive losses and improprieties.

Chalabi has said his conviction in Jordan was part of a vast conspiracy against him, alleging that the Jordanian Central Bank and its officials "combined and conspired to destroy" him. He also said that his bank, which had a U.S. affiliate called PIBC, had been wrongfully seized, and that Jordan had in 1989 planned to hand him over to Saddam Hussein.

On Monday, U.S. Judge Louis Oberdorfer dismissed the suit, citing the statute of limitations.

Chalabi's lawyers issued a statement to NBC News on behalf of Chalabi, noting that the judge's ruling was based on the time that has passed since the bank collapse, not on the merits of the case.

"Dr. Chalabi is continuing to explore ways in which we can vindicate the interests of the two banks and their shareholders," the statement said.

Struggling to gain Iraqi support
Chalabi, who left Iraq in 1958, was a fierce opponent of Saddam. Chalabi was celebrated by American neoconservatives who pushed for the war in Iraq.

Chalabi's exiled political group, the Iraqi National Congress, has been accused of providing phony intelligence about weapons of mass destruction to U.S. intelligence officials and media before the war. He has denied the charge.

Between the 1990s and the invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi National Congress received tens of millions of dollars in aid from U.S. taxpayers as government leaders supported Chalabi’s campaign to overthrow Saddam.

Despite his backers in Washington, he did not gain strong political traction in Iraq after the U.S. invasion. His party earned a negligible percentage of the popular vote in a 2005 election in Iraq.

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