$32b waits for owner at Moscow airport

By Alec Luhn

A Russian Aeroflot plane as seen through a window of Sheremetyevo airport. Photo / Getty Images
A Russian Aeroflot plane as seen through a window of Sheremetyevo airport. Photo / Getty Images

Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, until recently the home of whistleblower Edward Snowden, reportedly holds another secret: 20 billion ($32.7 billion) in cash unclaimed for the past six years.

That's enough money to cover the EU's predicted budget shortfall for 2013. No one is sure who it belongs to, and many doubt its very existence.

Some sources have said it was sent by Saddam Hussein, while others offer the Government of Iran as the owner. Those trying to claim it allegedly include Ukrainian spies, Chechen gangsters, al-Qaeda members and even the Knights of Malta.

On August 7, 2007 security company Brink's flew from Frankfurt to Moscow and delivered 200 wooden pallets with 20 billion in 100 notes owned by one "Farzin Koroorian Motlagh", according to a Sheremetyevo delivery document printed by the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets, which broke the story.

The document does not list a recipient. Several Russian intelligence agencies took control of the shipment, which has not yet been claimed, the newspaper reported.

A source in a Russian intelligence agency reportedly told the paper that the money could belong to former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who allegedly had US$12 billion in cash brought to Moscow in 2002 and invested in real estate. But the source warned against digging too deep, saying: "This is more dangerous than you can imagine."

In a subsequent article, an intelligence agency source calling himself "Ivan" reportedly told the newspaper that the US Government had long ago sent two Federal Reserve officers to Iran with a money-printing press to pay for oil it had bought.

When US-Iranian relations went sour, the Iranians were left with US$6 trillion in cash they couldn't use. It was transported to Frankfurt, said Ivan, where it was converted at a disadvantageous rate into 3 trillion. Brink's then delivered this money to 27 countries, including Russia.

Motlagh was one of three people the Iranian Government entrusted with picking up the money, but he tried to steal one of the shipments in Abu Dhabi and then suffered a suspicious heart attack in the custody of Iranian intelligence, Ivan said.

- Independent

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