Iraq oil cash ‘traced to British MP’

British MP George Galloway faces possible criminal charges after a US Senate investigation tracked US$150,000 in Iraqi oil money to his wife’s bank account in Jordan.

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By  James Bone and David Charter Published  October 30, 2005

British MP George Galloway faces possible criminal charges after a US Senate investigation tracked US$150,000 in Iraqi oil money to his wife’s bank account in Jordan. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will refer the Respect Party MP for possible prosecution after concluding that he gave “false and misleading” testimony at his appearance before the panel in May. The subcommittee will also forward the information to British authorities, saying that it raised questions about Galloway’s financial disclosure and the payment of illegal kickbacks to Iraq. “We have what we would call the smoking gun,” Senator Norm Coleman, the subcommittee’s Republican chairman said. The recently released subcommittee’s report was provoked by Galloway’s clash with the senators in May — which he turned into a book entitled Mr. Galloway goes to Washington. In that encounter, the anti-war MP vehemently denied that he had received any oil allocations from Iraq. But the report provides bank account details tracking payments from an oil company through a Jordanian middleman to Galloway’s now-estranged wife, Amina Naji Abu Zayyad, and his Mariam Appeal fund. “Galloway was anything but straight with the Congress. He was anything but straight with the American people. There was a lot of bombast. There was a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing,” Senator Coleman said. “We take very seriously the importance of testifying honestly before this committee ...” he said. “We will forward matters relating to Galloway’s false and misleading statements to the proper authorities here and in Great Britain.” A Senate aide said that Galloway would be referred to the Justice Department for investigation of possible perjury, false statement and obstruction of a Congressional proceeding — all “Class A” felonies carrying a sentence of up to five years and a US$250,000 fine. The report says that Fawaz Zureikat, the Jordanian middleman and a close friend of Galloway, funnelled US$150,000 from Iraqi oil sales to Galloway’s wife and at least US$446,000 to the Mariam Appeal. The saga dates back to Galloway’s Big Ben to Baghdad tour in September 1999 when he took a red double-decker bus to Iraq. An anonymous ‘oil trader 1’ told the Senate investigators that Galloway asked him at the Rashid Hotel during the tour how to translate oil allocations into money. Another individual, known as ‘oil trader 2’, told the investigators that he learnt in summer 2000 that the Iraqi Government had granted an allocation of oil to someone represented by Zureikat. Oil trader 2 said: “At that time I knew that the individual that Zureikat represented was a British official named George Galloway.” He added: “Officials of the Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organisation confirmed to me that Mr. Zureikat represented Mr. Galloway in the sale of Galloway’s allocations of Iraqi crude oil.” He also told investigators: “The fact that Mr. Zureikat represented Mr. Galloway with respect to oil allocations and other business in Iraq was common knowledge, understood by many oil traders with whom I had regular contact.” The investigators spoke to Tariq Aziz, the former deputy prime minister of Iraq, who told them that Galloway asked him for political funding in allocations in the name of Zureikat. The Senate report shows that Zureikat received US$740,000 from Taurus Petroleum on July 27, 2000, as commission for its purchase of 2,645,068 barrels of oil. The report then reproduces money-transfer documents from Citibank showing that Zureikat sent Galloway’s wife, Amina Naji Abu Zayyad, US$150,000 on August 3, 2000. They conclude that the amount was “largely” Oil-for-Food money because Zureikat’s account contained US$848,683 at the time, just US$38,000 of which did not come from the programme. Galloway, who recently made an anti-war speaking tour of the United States, referred all calls to his [parliamentary House of] Commons spokesman, Ron MacKay. “If George has been accused of lying, then he is challenging Coleman to bring charges of perjury against him and he is ready to fly to the United States tomorrow to defend himself,” MacKay said. “On the Mariam appeal, the Charity Commissioners in this country investigates the Mariam appeal and all the money in and all the money out was accounted for in minute detail.”

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