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Agence France Presse

Republican US Senator Indicted For Oil Gifts


WASHINGTON - Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the US Senate, has been indicted for making false statements concerning gifts he received from an oil-services firm, the Justice Department said Tuesday.0730 02Stevens, 84, was indicted by a federal grand jury on seven counts of making false statements on mandatory financial disclosure forms he filed between 1999 and 2006, said Matthew Friedrich, acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division.

Stevens denies the accusations.

Friedrich said the indictment charges that "while he was sitting as a United States senator between 1999 and 2006, Senator Stevens accepted gifts from a company known as VECO," an Alaska-based firm which provides oil field support.

"The gifts Senator Stevens is alleged to have received include substantial amounts of material and labor used in the renovation of a private residence which Senator Stevens and his wife owned," Friedrich said.

"The total amount of gifts that Senator Stevens is alleged to have received over the duration of the offense is greater than 250,000 dollars," he said.

"These items were not disclosed on Senator Stevens' financial disclosure forms which he filed under penalties of perjury, either as gifts or as liabilities," he said.

"Further, Senator Stevens did not reimburse or repay VECO or its chief executive officer for these items."

Two VECO executives pleaded guilty last year to bribing government officials, including an unnamed state senator.

Stevens released a statement claiming his innocence.

"I have proudly served this nation and Alaska for over 50 years," he said. "My public service began when I served in World War II. It saddens me to learn that these charges have been brought against me. I have never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a US Senator.

"I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that."

Stevens has served in the US Senate since December 1968 and is considered one of the most powerful Republicans in the body with seats on the Appropriations, Defense, Commerce and other committees. He temporarily relinquished his committee vice chairmanships.

Stevens, who is up for reelection this year, has been a strong advocate of opening up Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

© 2008 Agence France Presse

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