A commodities broker was sentenced to 35 years in prison Monday and to
HOUSTON (AP) _ A commodities broker was sentenced to 35 years in prison Monday and told to try to repay the $4.25 million prosecutors say he made in a $56 million oil swindle.
Prosecutors said Frederick Soudan, 41, made the money by stealing 200,000 tons of oil that he delivered to South Africa, then conspired with others to sink a supertanker to cover up the theft.
He was convicted on March 26 of 17 counts of wire fraud, perjury, interstate transportation of stolen property, conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Soudan apologized for his actions after U.S. District Judge Carl O. Bue announced the sentence.
″I got involved in something beyond my comprehension,″ he said. ″I should have known better. I made a mistake ... and I’m very sorry.″
Prosecutors said the scheme was part of a conspiracy to steal 1.4 million barrels of oil from European firms and secretly deliver it to South Africa, which has difficulty buying oil because of international objections to its racial segregation policies.
Soudan’s brother-in-law, Abdul Wahab Al Ghazou, 48, of Syria, also was sentenced Monday to five years in prison. Ghazou, who was convicted last month of three counts of perjury and conspiracy in the affair, had faced up to 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.
Attorneys for both men have said the convictions will be appealed.
A Dutchman, Anton Reidel, faces charges in the Netherlands and Nicholas Mitakis has been charged in Greece with offenses connected with the affair.
Soudan’s lawyers contended during the 11-week federal trial that their client was an innocent oil broker who was duped in the deal by a ″Greek mafia.″
Soudan had faced up to 86 years in prison and an $88,000 fine.
Prosecutors said Soudan’s largest assets are two bank accounts in the Bahamas and Switzerland, totalling about $300,000. The money will be divided between Shell International Trading Co., which owned the oil, and Lloyd’s of London, which insured the sunken vessel, prosecutors said.
Bue also told Soudan he should try to sell some of his belongings to repay the money.