SYDNEY, Australia – A South Korean businessman accused of accepting millions of dollars from Iraq in the United Nations oil-for-food scandal has been charged with lying to the FBI.
On Wednesday, a federal grand jury returned an indictment accusing Tongsun Park of falsely telling investigators in 2004 that he played no role more than a decade ago in the adoption of the U.N. resolution that set up the oil-for-food program.
The one-count, single-sentence indictment also says Park made false statements when he said he had no business dealings with an unidentified U.N. official, and when he told the FBI that he did not exchange money with an unidentified Iraqi-American, and that he had never been to that person's office.
In New York, Park already is facing charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government and money laundering. He has pleaded not guilty.
Park's lawyer, Michael Kim, said the government is concerned it will lose the case in New York and is seeking "a second bite of the apple" with the Washington case, which was assigned to U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan. The New York case is scheduled to go to trial June 26.
The oil-for-food program ran from 1996 to 2003 to help Iraqis cope with U.N. sanctions imposed after Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Park was charged in New York in April 2005 with accepting millions of dollars from the Iraqi government while he operated in the United States as an unregistered agent for Iraq's oil-for-food program. He became a fugitive when he failed to respond to a U.S. warrant, and he was arrested in Houston in January after being expelled from Mexico.
In the 1970s, Park was at the center of what became known as the Koreagate scandal, in which he was accused of trying to buy influence in Congress.
Park was indicted in the scandal, but the charges were dropped.