Canadian National Charged with Foreign Bribery and Paying Kickbacks Under the Oil for Food Program
A Canadian citizen has been charged in an indictment unsealed yesterday for his alleged participation 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 the refining of 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. Naaman is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and two counts of violating the FCPA. Naaman was arrested on July 30, 2009, in Frankfurt, Germany. The Department of Justice is seeking his extradition from Germany to the United States.
According to the indictment, from 2001 to 2003, acting on behalf of a publicly traded U.S. chemical company and its subsidiary, Naaman allegedly offered and paid 10 percent kickbacks to the then Iraqi government in exchange for five contracts under the OFFP. Naaman allegedly negotiated the contracts, including a 10 percent increase in the price to cover the kickback. 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 addition, according to the indictment, in 2006 Naaman 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. Naaman 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.
If convicted on all charges, Naaman faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Kathleen M Hamann of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case is being investigated by the Washington Field Office of the FBI. Significant assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement and the United Kingdom Serious Fraud Office’s United Nations Oil for Food Investigations Unit.
An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.