Jail for British Sanction-Breaker (71)

Riad El-Taher has been jailed for 10 months for making illegal payments to the Iraqi Government of Saddam Hussein in contravention of United Nations sanctions and UK law

Riad El-Taher, a British citizen aged 71 from Esher, Surrey, has admitted that in 2001 he made four illegal payments totalling over $500,000 to the Iraqi Government in order to secure lucrative oil contracts. During this period payments to Iraq could legally only be made after a licence had been granted by HM Treasury. El-Taher had neither obtained nor sought any such licence.

The contracts obtained by the illegal payments were for two million barrels of oil valued at over $50 million. This oil was sold for a profit of over $600,000, most of which was deposited in an offshore bank account controlled by El-Taher.

United Nations sanctions

Economic sanctions were imposed by the United Nations in 1990 following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. They barred all imports and exports from Iraq with some exceptions such as medicines. After Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait, the UN resolved in 1991 that sanctions would only be lifted following destruction of Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons, inspection of its nuclear capabilities and payment of compensation to the victims of its invasion of Kuwait.

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