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Texas oilman, two Swiss executives latest charged in oil-for-food scandal

Saturday, October 22, 2005

NEW YORK -- A Texas oil mogul and two Swiss business executives were charged Friday with paying millions in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime in the latest indictment to come out of the U.N. oil-for-food scandal.

Oscar S. Wyatt Jr., founder and former chairman of Coastal Corp., was arrested at his home in Houston. The U.S. government was seeking the extradition of oil traders Catalina del Socorro Miguel Fuentes and Mohammed Saidji from Switzerland.

Wyatt, 81, was freed after bail was set at $2.5 million on the federal charges.

The United Nations set up the oil-for-food program in the 1990s as part of an effort to punish Saddam's regime without making the Iraqi people suffer. Iraq was allowed to sell its crude oil, but the proceeds were supposed to go toward food and other humanitarian aid for the Iraqis.

The program was found to be rife with corruption. Authorities said Saddam began insisting that those he dealt with pay kickbacks.

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