US judge sentences former oil baron to five years for tax evasion

A US judge has sentenced the former CEO of Gulf Keystone, an oil company whose secret dealings with Iraqi-Kurdish politicians nearly led to his downfall, to five years in prison for tax evasion, the US Department of Health revealed last week. Justice.

“For years, Todd Kozel did not file tax returns or pay federal tax debts owed under those returns, despite earning millions of dollars in compensation as the CEO of an oil company. foreign,” said U.S. attorney Damian Williams. (Photo: James Armbruster, Pixabay, License)“For years, Todd Kozel did not file tax returns or pay federal tax debts owed under those returns, despite earning millions of dollars in compensation as the CEO of an oil company. foreign,” said U.S. attorney Damian Williams.

Kozel used offshore structures, trusts, and bank accounts to hide some of his unreported income, and his escape reportedly cost the US government more than $20 million.

“By not paying his fair share, he has cheated the American people out of millions of dollars,” said IRS Criminal Investigations Special Agent Tom Fattorusso.

Kozel helped found Gulf Keystone in 2004 right after the Iraq War started. In 2007, he signed an agreement with the government of the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq (KRG) to exploit the oil fields in the region.

Behind the scenes, however, he struck a deal with Izzeddin Berwari, a member of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party, promising Berwari’s Dabin Group bribes of 10% of Gulf Keystone’s net profits from Kurdish fields in as general project consultants.

News of the deal came amid divorce proceedings between Kozel and ex-wife Ashley after he began an affair with a Lithuanian model.

When Kozel tried to avoid paying him the $38 million court-awarded settlement, saying he didn’t have the money, his lawyers began to take a closer look at his finances, including multiple accounts. offshore he had in the Virgin Islands and elsewhere.

What they found was evidence to suggest that Kozel was the secret owner of a shell company designed to funnel payments to his secret investors such as Berwari and other KRG members.

It was enough for the IRS to take an interest in it and in December 2018, Kozel was arrested upon entering the United States at JFK airport in New York. He was quickly charged with money laundering and fraud, but eventually reached a plea deal for the lesser charge of tax evasion to which he pleaded guilty, resulting in last week’s sentencing.

In addition to the prison sentence, he must pay the IRS compensation of just under $30 million.

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