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Oil-for-food fraud trial of South Korea lobbyist underway

[JURIST] Opening arguments began Tuesday in the fraud trial of Tongsun Park [personal website; Washington Post profile], who has been charged [JURIST report] with money laundering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and acting as an unregistered agent of the government of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in connection with the now-defunct UN oil-for-food program [JURIST news archive]. The prosecutor in the trial, the first federal trial in the US stemming from the oil-for-food scandal, promised to prove the South Korean lobbyist accepted large amounts of cash from Iraq for influencing the program while secretly lobbying on behalf of Hussein's government. The defense, however, insisted Park was merely "a middleman or facilitator" like many others. If convicted, Park faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In a separate case, Park was also charged last Wednesday with lying to the FBI [JURIST report] about his role in the adoption of the 1995 UN Security Council Resolution 986 [PDF text], which established the oil-for-food program. Reuters has more.

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