- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 25, 2005

LONDON — Maverick British politician George Galloway yesterday dared the U.S. Senate to charge him with perjury over claims he lied under oath when he denied taking money from Saddam Hussein under Iraq’s oil-for-food program.

Mr. Galloway accused U.S. lawmakers of a “sneak attack” and said he was ready to catch the next plane to the United States to defend himself against a key congressional subcommittee and its “lickspittle” chairman.

The outburst came barely hours after Senate investigators accused him of giving “false and misleading testimony” at a Capitol Hill hearing May 17.

Citing newly uncovered bank records and testimony from senior Iraqi officials, Sen. Norm Coleman, Minnesota Republican, said Monday his panel had found the “smoking gun” indicating Mr. Galloway, his wife and a charity he ran received nearly $600,000 from secret oil deals under the U.N.-run program in Iraq.

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs permanent subcommittee on investigations, which Mr. Coleman chairs, will soon forward its findings to both U.S. and British legal authorities for possible prosecution, according to Mr. Coleman’s press secretary, Andrea Wuebker.

Mr. Coleman and his aides say Mr. Galloway, a fierce critic of President Bush and the U.S.-led war in Iraq, could face charges of perjury, making false statements and obstruction of a congressional proceeding. Each charge is a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in jail and fines of up to $250,000.

Paul Bresson, a Justice Department spokesman, said the department had not formally received any referral from Senate investigators about the latest Galloway charges.

“We have brought oil-for-food cases and, if and when we are notified in this case, we will certainly review it and do what is appropriate,” Mr. Bresson said.

In interviews with British broadcasters, Mr. Galloway reiterated his unequivocal denials that he had ever received any oil cash, telling Sky News, “I am demanding prosecution. I am begging for prosecution.”

There was no indication yesterday whether authorities in Britain will bring charges based on the new Senate findings. Mr. Galloway, who was expelled from the ruling Labor Party for his attacks on the Iraq war, has already won $262,000 in damages in a libel suit against the London Daily Telegraph for stories saying he secretly did oil-for-food deals.

The newspaper is appealing the award, and Senate investigators say their findings are based on different documents and witnesses from those used by the Telegraph.

Nile Gardiner, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation, said the new Senate findings could lead to formal investigations by the Justice Department and British legal authorities.

In addition, Mr. Gardiner said, Mr. Galloway could face action from the Parliamentary Commission for Standards, the ethics body for the British legislature, and from the UK Charities Commission.

David R. Sands contributed to this article from Washington.

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