U.S. Federal Agents arrest two Houston men in UN Oil for Food scandal

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Two Houston residents were arrested at their homes today as a Federal indictment was unsealed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

David Chalmers Jr, a Houston oilman, and a Bulgarian citizen, Ludmil Dionissiev, a permanent U.S. resident, were taken into custody. A third man, John Irving, was also indicted. He is a British citizen whom prosecutors hope to extradite to the U.S.

U.S. Attorney David N. Kelley announced that most charges focus on Chalmers. At a New York news conference, authorities accused the men of plotting to pay secret kickbacks so Chalmers’ oil companies could sell oil under cover of the Iraqi oil-for-food program.

The funds were intended for humanitarian relief, not oil revenues.

The three men face a maximum of 62 years in prison and fines totaling $1 million (US) if convicted. Additionally, the court could force them to make restitution.

The indictment says the government seeks forfeiture of at least $100 million (US) in assets from the three.

The same news story said an indictment on another case was unsealed in that court today. Tongsun Park, a South Korean, was charged with conspiracy to act as an unregistered government agent for Iraq in the United States to create the oil-for-food program.

Lawyers for the defendants were not immediately available.

The oil-for-food program began in December 1996 as a humanitarian effort to support the people of Iraq, and ended after the US-led invasion in 2003. Many scandals and kickbacks are documented and criminal prosecutions for bribery, sanctions busting, money laundering and fraud are expected to lead to dozens of arrests in many countries. Reporters were told that it is likely that the enforcement actions will occur in mid-summer, 2005.

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