Family clues to Iraq's missing oil billions

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American and Iraqi government investigators tracing hundreds of millions of pounds missing from Saddam Hussein's illicit fortune are hoping to question members of the former dictator's close family.

Officials from the FBI, the American Treasury and the State Department particularly want to find £2.2bn in illegal profits that Saddam's regime is alleged to have earned from 2000-2003 from an oil-for-trade pact signed with Syria that was outside the official United Nations administered oil-for-food programme, according to official documents released to a US congressional sub-committee.

State Department and Treasury officials claim that Syria has failed to account properly for more than $500m in Iraqi oil profits. The cash, deposited in Syria's central bank, was paid to Syrian 'businessmen' after Saddam's fall, sources say. Syrian officials deny the allegations, saying that visits by American officials to Damascus in the autumn of 2003 failed to uncover any evidence of the missing cash apart from $300m that has already been frozen.

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