The fiery Brit George Galloway defied the U.S. Senate once again, denying claims that he lied under oath during his testimony last May on the U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq.
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs released a report Monday saying it has fresh evidence that Galloway and his wife benefited from illegal oil money from the regime of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
The new allegations call into question Galloway's vehement denials that he profited from the 1996 to 2003 oil-for-food program, which is the subject of investigations by both the U.S. Congress and the United Nations.
The oil-for-food program set up by the United Nations enabled Iraq to sell limited quantities of oil to meet its people's needs for food and medicine as economic sanctions were imposed against Saddam's regime. The investigations have focused on various political figures and oil middle men who bought under-priced Iraqi oil and got kickbacks as traders pumped up the price before selling it on the open market.
Looking for Kickbacks
The committee, led by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., alleges that the Labor Party lawmaker and now British member of parliament received eight oil vouchers from Saddam's regime between 1999 and 2003 and that wire transfers of $446,000 from oil allocations enabled him to pay for his political campaign. According to the committee report, his now-estranged Jordanian wife, Amireh Abu-Zayyad, also raked in some cash, purportedly receiving $150,000 in oil money.
"We have what I think we call the smoking gun," said Coleman in a written statement. "The additional evidence clearly demonstrates the testimony Mr. Galloway provided the sub-committee was false and misleading."
Galloway told BBC Radio, "The specific allegation against me is that I lied under oath in front of a Senate committee. In this case, the remedy is clear -- they must charge me with perjury and I am ready to fly to the U.S. today, if necessary, to face such a charge because it is simply false."
Fiery Defiance in May
During sworn testimony in mid-May, the mustachioed Galloway voluntarily came to the United States to defend himself against accusations of corruption in the scandal-plagued oil-for-food program. Galloway didn't mince his words in attacking the Senate oil-for-food subcommittee. He charged the committee was simply looking for a scapegoat in what he described as the United State's failed war in Iraq.
"I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader and neither has anyone on my behalf," he said, staring down senators red-faced and gravelly voiced. He accused the Senate committee of being "cavalier with any idea of justice." saying that the panel had accused him without ever questioning him.
Galloway denounced the charges that he received anything from Saddam, calling the inquiry the "mother of all smokescreens."
Coleman has indicated that the committee plans to send the new evidence to the U.S. Department of Justice as well as to British authorities, at which time criminal proceedings may be undertaken.