Page last updated at 12:18 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 13:18 UK

Britons accused over Saddam oil

Saddam Hussein
Sanctions were imposed on Saddam's regime after Iraq invaded Kuwait

Two British oil traders have been charged with breaching United Nations sanctions on Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

Aftab Al Hassan, 65, from north London, appeared at City of London Magistrates on Thursday accused of funnelling $1.6m into accounts controlled by Saddam.

A second man, Riad el Tahir, 70, from Esher, Surrey, appeared on 19 August. Neither man has yet entered a plea.

Their arrests followed an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into misuse of Iraq's oil-for-food programme.

After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, triggering the first Gulf War, the UN imposed strict sanctions on the country.

In an effort to help ordinary citizens, the UN set up the oil-for-food programme to allow Iraq to sell oil in exchange for some badly needed humanitarian goods.

But Saddam Hussein's government allegedly embezzled millions of dollars from the scheme, causing major embarrassment to the UN.

Denial

Mr Al Hassan, from Finchley, is accused of 13 counts of breaching sanctions between January 2001 and April 2002.

Des Jenson, Mr Hassan's lawyer, told the Financial Times newspaper his client denied all the allegations.

"Our client's defence is that any payment he made was perfectly legal," he said.

Mr Al Hassan's case was adjourned for four weeks.

The charges against both men relate to their activities as sole traders in the oil market.

In 2005, a UN report named more than 2,000 companies from 40 countries that allegedly paid "commission" fees to the Iraqi government in the 1990s.



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