Saturday, February 24, 2007

Tongsun Park Receives Maximum Sentence in Oil-for-Food Corruption Case

South Korean businessman Tongsun Park first burst on the scene in the 1970s when he was indicted on influence-peddling charges in the Koreagate contributions scandal, although the charges were eventually dropped after he fled the United States.  With the United Nations' Oil-for-Food program designed to get humanitarian aid into Iraq during the embargo after the first Gulf War, Park got involved in helping the Iraq government try to bribe UN officials, including then-Secretary General Boutros-Ghali, to set up the program in a way that favored the Iraqi government..  The government of Saddam Hussein gave Park $1 million in cash, much of which went into a company owned by a UN official.  In July 2006, Park was convicted of conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of the Government of Iraq.  U.S. District Judge Denny Chin sentenced Park to the maximum five-year prison term authorized for his conviction (see USAO press release here), stating that "[y]ou either bribed a U.N. official or you were acting as if you were going to bribe a U.N. official."  Park was immediately taken into custody at the end of the sentencing hearing.  A Washington Post story (here) reviews the case and Park's history of involvement in various lobbying efforts. (ph)

Corruption, Sentencing | Permalink

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