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Canadian Indicted For Iraq Bribes

The Justice Department said Friday that a Canadian citizen has been indicted for his alleged role in an eight-year conspiracy to defraud the United Nations Oil for Food Program (OFFP) and to bribe Iraqi government officials in connection with the sale of a chemical additive used in refining leaded fuel.

Ousama Naaman, 60, of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, was indicted on Aug. 7, 2008, in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The indictment was unsealed last week. It charges Naaman with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and two counts of violating the FCPA.

Naaman was arrested on July 30, 2009 in Frankfurt, Germany. The Justice Department is trying to extradite him to the United States to stand trial. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

From 2001 to 2003, acting on behalf of a publicly traded U.S. chemical company and its subsidiary, Naaman allegedly offered and paid ten percent kickbacks to the then Iraqi government in exchange for five contracts under the OFFP. In exchange for handling the kickbacks, Naaman allegedly received two percent of the contract value, in addition to the two percent commission he was paid for securing the contracts. The U.S. company allegedly inflated its prices in contracts approved by the OFFP to cover the cost of the kickbacks.

In 2006, Naaman also allegedly paid $150,000 in bribes on behalf of the U.S. company to Iraqi Ministry of Oil officials to ensure that a competing product manufactured by a different company failed a field test, keeping the competing product out of the Iraqi market. He is alleged then to have provided the U.S. company with false invoices, on the basis of which the U.S. company reimbursed him for the bribes to the Iraqi officials.

The Justice Department hasn’t identified the U.S. company Naaman was acting for or the competing company.

As the DOJ says, an indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.

Download the DOJ’s July 31, 2009 release here.

Download the unsealed indictment in US v Ousama M. Naaman here (with thanks to Glen Kelley).

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