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DOJ indicts Houston oil tycoon in Iraq oil-for-food scheme

[JURIST] US Attorney for the Southern District of New York [official website] Michael Garcia has charged and arrested Houston oil tycoon Oscar Wyatt [NYT profile] for his involvement in the Iraq oil-for-food scandal [JURIST news archive]. Garcia also charged two Swiss bank executives as well as several corporations controlled by the defendants for paying kickback money to the Saddam Hussein regime in exchange for the rights to purchase oil through the program. Sealed indictments say [DOJ press release] that the three defendants concealed the kickback payments from the UN by making cash deposits to a bank account located in Jordan that was controlled by the Iraqi government. Wyatt's lawyer has protested his client's innocence. The UN oil-for-food program lifted UN sanctions against Iraq to allow the country to sell a limited amount of oil to pay for food and medicine for its people. The US Senate estimates that the Hussein regime earned around $17.3 billion from the arrangement. Reuters has more.

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