A lawsuit filed by a group of Israeli citizens says the bribes paid to former Iraqi regime by Houston oilman Oscar Wyatt funded terrorist activities.
Wyatt spent a year in prison as part of a plea agreement where he admitted to one conspiracy charge for taking part in a scheme to pay illegal surcharges Saddam Hussein’s regime was demanding from customers purchasing Iraqi crude under the U.N.’s Oil-for-Food program.
His attorney said if the lawsuit’s claims are upheld it would mean just about every oil company in the U.S., if not the world, would be pegged as supporting terrorism:
If “buying oil from Iraq makes you an accomplice in terrorism, then we’re all in a world of hurt,” said Carl Parker, Wyatt’s attorney. “If my clients are stuck, then all oil companies in the United States are stuck.”
The case was moved this week from U.S. District Court in Washington to Houston, where the financial transactions took place.
The case is being brought against Wyatt under the Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789, which allows foreign citizens to have their cases heard in U.S. courts.
The plaintiffs in the case are asking for $1 billion in damages from Wyatt and his company, NuCoastal Corp., claiming that Wyatt was aware that such money was used as a “financial reward and incitement program which rewarded the families of martyrs and suicide bombers in an effort to incentivize acts of terrorism.”