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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Court Affirms Sanctioning of Arms Dealer’s Associate

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - The State Department was justified in sanctioning a Syrian-born accountant for contributing to the instability in Liberia by associating with a Russian businessman regarded as an international weapons trafficker, the 5th Circuit ruled.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control issued a blocking order against Richard Chichakli, now a naturalized U.S. citizen, for acting in Liberia on behalf of Viktor Bout, an alleged arms dealer and one of the 28 people whose assets were frozen by the State Department in President Bush's executive order declaring a national emergency in the African nation.

Chichakli challenged the evidence against him and accused OFAC of violating his due process rights, the Takings Clause and the Administrative Procedures Act.

Judge Southwick ruled that the government had to act quickly in stopping Chichakli's business activities.

"Because of the need for prompt action in these circumstances and the availability of post-deprivation avenues to challenge to deprivation," the judge wrote, "there were exigent circumstances justifying the holding of a hearing only after Chichakli's assets were frozen."

Southwick also ruled that the district court lacked jurisdiction over Chichakli's takings claim, remanding it to the Court of Federal Claims.

Bout was arrested in Thailand in March, caught in a sting operation. He was charged in the United States with conspiracy for trying to smuggle missiles and rocket launchers into Colombia. He is also suspected of supplying weapons to terrorist organizations and of dumping large arms shipments into Africa's civil wars.

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