WASHINGTON -- An antiwar British legislator gave false testimony to Congress when he denied that a group he led had received UN oil-for-food allocations from Saddam Hussein, a Senate investigative panel said yesterday.
Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota, the Republican chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, and his panel's investigators presented evidence that, they say, shows that a political organization controlled by the British legislator, George Galloway, and his wife, Amineh Abu-Zayyad, had received almost $600,000 from the oil-for-food allocations.
Galloway, who represents the London area of Bethnal Green and Bow, has been a strong critic of the US war in Iraq.
Congressional investigators said Galloway may face charges of perjury, making false statements and obstructing a congressional proceeding, with each charge carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
A spokesman for Galloway, Ron McKay, said in an interview from London that the lawmaker has denied the accusations, and if charged with perjury, that Galloway is willing to appear in a US court.
''Put up or shut up," McKay said of Galloway's accusers, calling the report defamatory.
At a hearing in May, Galloway blasted Coleman's subcommittee as ''the mother of all smoke screens," denying accusations that he profited from the program and accusing lawmakers of unfairness.
Coleman, a critic of the United Nations, said his panel's evidence shows that Galloway solicited and was granted oil allocations.
These, he said totaled 23 million barrels from 1999 through 2003. Those allocations could be sold for a profit.
The report also alleges that a Galloway friend, Fawaz Zureikat, a Jordanian business executive, had funneled money from the oil-for-food program to Abu-Zayyad, and to the Mariam Appeal, an organization that Galloway established in 1998 to help a 4-year-old Iraqi girl with leukemia.
Coleman said his investigators had confirmed evidence with the former Iraqi deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, a friend of Galloway's, and the former Iraqi vice president, Taha Yasin Ramadan.
Several committees are investigating allegations that Saddam Hussein, then Iraq's president, manipulated the $64 billion oil-for-food program to get kickbacks and build opposition to UN sanctions against Iraq imposed after Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait.