x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

US seeks UAE resident on conspiracy charge

US officials are seelking to extradite an Abu Dhabi resident from Germany accused of conspiring to defraud the United Nations Oil for Food programme in Iraq.

US officials are asking Germany to extradite an Abu Dhabi resident accused of conspiring to defraud the United Nations Oil for Food programme in Iraq and bribe Iraqi officials connection with the sale of a fuel additive, according to the Department of Justice. Ousama Naaman, 60, a Canadian citizen, was arrested on Thursday in Frankfurt, the Justice Department said in a statement. The US District Court for the District of Columbia indicted him last year on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The Justice Department said the indictment was unsealed on Thursday and it is seeking Mr Naaman's extradition.

The US indictment alleges that Mr Naaman, acting on behalf of an unidentified US chemical company and its subsidiary, paid 10 per cent kickbacks to the Iraqi government between 2001 and 2003 in exchange for five contracts under the oil for food program. Mr Naaman allegedly negotiated the terms of the contract, which included an increase in the price to cover the cost of the kickbacks. He was paid two per cent of the contract value and received a commission, the Justice Department said. The indictment also said in 2006 Mr Naaman allegedly paid $150,000 in bribes on behalf of the US company to Iraqi Ministry of Oil officials to ensure that a competing product manufactured by a different company failed a field test.

Mr Naaman is alleged then to have provided the US company with false invoices, on the basis of which the US company reimbursed him for the bribes to the Iraqi officials. If convicted on all charges, Mr Naaman faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years. Under the oil-for-food program, which ran from 1996 to 2003, Iraq was allowed to sell oil provided most of the money went to buy humanitarian goods. It was aimed at easing Iraqi suffering under UN sanctions imposed after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

*AP