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Texas oil company owner pleads guilty to wire fraud conspiracy in oil-for-food deal

[JURIST] A Texas oil baron pleaded guilty Friday to charges that he paid millions in bribes to Iraqi officials in connection with the UN oil-for-food scandal. David Chalmers, owner of Bayoil USA Inc and Bayoil Supply and Trading Ltd, pleaded guilty in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] to conspiracy to commit wire fraud [indictment, PDF]. Ludmil Dionissiev, a Bulgarian oil trader who helped Chalmers buy Iraqi oil, meanwhile pleaded guilty to smuggling.

The now-defunct UN Oil-for-Food program [official website; JURIST news archive] allowed the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein, under UN sanctions in the wake of the first Gulf War, to sell limited stocks of oil in return for foodstuffs and other humanitarian supplies. Hussein's regime nonetheless bribed foreign officials and commercial interests so it could sell oil on the black market, embezzling over $1 billion in program funds and perhaps as much another $10 billion from other sources. Reuters has more.

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