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US Charges Three With Bribery In Azerbaijan Oil Deal

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posted on Oct, 6 2005 @ 03:38 PM
Three men have been indicted in a scheme to fly tens of millions of dollars into Azerbaijan to bribe officials there and gain control of the state oil company. The defendants include the internationally wanted Czech investor Viktor Kozeny, who was arrested in the Bahamas on Wednesday, and a managing director of AIG Global Investment, a subsidiary of American International Group, the world's largest insurer by market value.
"This was a brazen attempt to steal the wealth of a sovereign nation," U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia told a news conference on Thursday to announce the indictments by a federal grand jury.

Lawyers for the AIG employee, David Pinkerton, and another defendant, Frederic Bourke, said they were both victims who were defrauded by Kozeny and that they were helping to build a case against them.

The country had been preparing the privatization of SOCAR in the 1990s by issuing vouchers to bid for its shares, and the freely traded instruments were typically bought and sold with dollars, officials said.

Foreigners could also own vouchers if they purchased a government-issued option for each voucher held.

Kozeny sent millions in cash on private jets or planes he chartered into Azerbaijan via Switzerland to buy vouchers, and Bourke and Pinkerton "knowingly participated in the scheme," Garcia said.

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[edit on 10/15/05 by FredT]


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