Oscar Wyatt

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Oscar Wyatt
Born Oscar Sherman Wyatt, Jr.
(1924-07-11) July 11, 1924 (age 90)
Beaumont, Texas
Nationality American
Education Texas A & M, 1949 degree in Mechanical Engineering
Occupation businessman
Known for Founder of Coastal Corporation
Net worth over $100 million
Spouse(s) Lynn Sakowitz Wyatt (m.1963–present)
Children 4 sons
Website
www.oscarswyatt.com/index.htm
Notes

Oscar Sherman Wyatt, Jr. (born July 11, 1924) is an American businessman. He was the founder of Coastal Corporation. In 2007 he pled guilty in U.S. federal court in Manhattan to illegally sending payments to Iraq under the Oil for Food program.[2][3]

Early history[edit]

Wyatt was born in 1924 in Beaumont, Texas[4] and grew up in Navasota, Texas. He worked on farms and at a gas station before earning his pilot's license at age 16 to work as a crop duster. Wyatt later attended Texas A & M University but left in 1942 to enlist in the Army Air Corps. As a combat aviator, Wyatt was a decorated WWII pilot by age 21. After the war, he returned to Texas A & M and earned his degree in Mechanical Engineering.[5][6]

Texas Oilman[edit]

Oscar Wyatt was born into poverty in Beaumont, abandoned by an alcoholic father, raised by a devoted single mom in Navasota. Oscar Wyatt served in World War II, and was decorated and wounded twice as a bomber pilot. Earning a degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A & M University, gained experience in the oil business selling drill bits from the trunk of his Ford Coupe, working for Kerr-McGee and Reed Roller Bitas before becoming a partner in Wymore Oil Company. [7] A 2007 Texas Monthly magazine article called Wyatt the real "JR Ewing" of the Oil Business and described Oscar and his wife Lynn Sakowitz, a fixture of Houston social, fashion together as the beauty and the beast."[8] Known as a shrewd businessman, Wyatt was both beloved and hated, litigious and charitble. A personal friend of Iraq's Saddam Hussien and business partner to Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, Wyatt urged President Bush (41) not to go to war with Iraq over Kuwait and later negotiated with Saddam to secure the release of western hostages being held in Baghdad. Wyatt entered the refining industry in the early 1960s, And he began to attend Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meetings in Vienna, Austria. The U.S. refineries were optimized for high sulfur ("sour") crude oil, so Wyatt began to buy Iraqi oil in 1972.[9] Wyatt retired as the Coastal Corporations chairman in 1997 yet continued to serve as Executive Committee chairman until Coastal's sale to the El Paso Natural Gas Company in January 2001.

The Coastal Corporation[edit]

The ambitious, Wyatt founded Coastal States Gas Producing Company in 1955. Like Oscar, Coastal began business in modest circumstances, with 68 miles of pipeline and 78 employees. Expanding through acusitions and expanding across multiple sectors, Coastal became a diversified energy company. Coastal produced and marketed petroleum, natural gas, electricity, and coal. It also sold gasoline at Coastal-branded gas stations: by 1999, Coastal Refining and Marketing operated 962 gas stations across in 33 states and was supplied by four refineries, including a 150,000 bbl per day refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, a 180,000 bbl per day refinery in Eagle Point, New Jersey, a 250,000 barrel per day refinery on Aruba, and a 25,000 bbl per day refinery geared for asphalt production in Chickasaw, Alabama. Coastal Corporation also owned and operated a fleet of oil tankers, tugs, and barges. Sales in 1991 totaled $9.549 billion. Coastal Corporation was a major supplier of marine diesel in the Caribbean, natural gas in Colorado, and heating oil in the Northeast. Coastal was a key natural gas producer and distributor along with competitors Enron, Williams, and El Paso Energy, which Coastal later merged with. Coastal produced, gathered, processed, transported, stored and marketed natural gas throughout the United States and by the 1990s Coastal's 20,000-mile pipeline network, including the Iroquois and Great Lakes pipeline, completed in 1991, and the Empire State Pipeline, completed in 1992, transported five billion cubic feet of natural gas daily. As of 1999, Coastal was a Fortune 500 company with 13,300 employees and annual Revenues of $8.2 billion.

Proxy Fight[edit]

In 2003, Oscar Wyatt and other shareholders sued the El Paso Corporation for allegedly misrepresenting its intentions for Coastal assets prior to the merger in 2000. After the merger of Coastal and El Paso Corporation, the former began divesting itself of Coastal assets beginning in 2001. El Paso needed the cash to repay mounting debt it had acquired from following much the same business model as Ken Lay's Enron. El Paso had heavily leveraged itself to fuel sales into new markets for electricity and concealed mounting debt from its balance sheet by writing off the debt to offshore subsidiary companies. In June 2003, Oscar Wyatt with El Paso investor Selim Zilkha initiated a proxy fight to gain control of the El Paso Corporation to wrestle control of the remaining assets including natural gas pipelines, exploration, and production assets. Since the merger and disclosre of corporate malfeasanc by El Paso managemente, Its stock had fallen 87% from its February 2001 high of $75 a share. El Paso owed $25 billion in debt and was being sued by shareholders and investigated by state and federal regulators. [10]

Iraq[edit]

While El Paso Engergy was selling Coastal's petroleum marketing and production assets off piece by piece to competitors Valero, Sunoco, and Conoco Phillips; Oscar Wyatt was being investigated for illegally doing business with Iraq's Saddam Hussein in violation of United Sanctions that strictly regulated Iraqi sales of crude oil. In 2007, Oscar Wyatt pled guilty in a U.S. federal court for illegally sending payments to Iraq under the Oil for Food program. [11] At his sentencing hearing, Wyatt's attorney Shargel who also defended Mafia boss Jon Gotti pointed to a commission report, led by former Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul Volcker that concluded that about half of the 4,500 companies in the Oil-for-Food Program paid a total of $1.8 billion in kickbacks and illicit surcharges to Saddam’s regime. Wyatt's defense also floated the issue of “vindictive prosecution”—that is, the Bush administration singling out its old nemesis in both the oil patch and politics, Oscar Wyatt, for punishment but leaving other possible violators of the sanctions alone. Prosecutors, in turn, amassed a daunting paper trail and rewarded a few former Iraqi petrocrats with help in obtaining U.S. green cards—as long as they agreed to testify against sanction breakers like Oscar. [12]In October 2007 Wyatt plead guilty to conspiring to, under the Oil for Food program, make illegal payments to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Wyatt received a one year prison sentence, and was sentenced to serve in the minimum security camp at the Federal Correctional Complex, Beaumont, in Beaumont, Texas.

Comeback[edit]

After stepping down from Coastal, Wyatt continued to consult with other petroleum related interests to help them improve their processes and procedures, and maximize their pipeline and refinery operations, resulting in better returns for common shareholders. [13]Wyatt invested in frozen foods distribution and in July 2001, Wyatt created a new company - the NuCoastal Corporation, renamed Coastal Energy - to explore energy opportunities available across the globe, including Malaysia, and sold Coastal Energy for $500 million in 2013.

Personal life[edit]

Wyatt has been married to socialite Lynn Wyatt since 1963 and has four children. Wyatt and his wife lived in the Houston neighborhood of River Oaks until selling their home in 2001 and have since lived in New York City and Europe.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Suro, Robert (October 8, 1991). "Family Quarrel Unfolds In a Houston Courtroom". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-09-09. "Lynn Sakowitz Wyatt, who is Mr. Sakowitz's only sibling, has combined down-home charm and haute couture to become an international socialite whose guest lists have included Mick Jagger, the Duchess of York and the Aga Khan. Her husband, Oscar S. Wyatt Jr., is a gruff oil executive who is chairman of the Coastal Corporation and has a fortune estimated at well over $100 million. Having done an extensive business with Iraq, he flew to Baghdad shortly before the outbreak of the Persian Gulf war, met with Saddam Hussein and brought home a planeload of hostages." 
  2. ^ Fowler, Tom (January 2, 2008). "Wyatt begins 1-year prison term". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  3. ^ Feuer, Alan (September 6, 2007). "Texas Tycoon, Prosecuted for Iraq Dealings, Says He’s a Target". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  4. ^ Who's who in the South and Southwest. Marquis Who's Who. 2003. ISBN 9780837908335. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  5. ^ "Oscar S. Wyatt, Jr. (biography)". Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  6. ^ Trotta, Daniel; Christine Kearney (September 5, 2007). "Texas oil tycoon Wyatt in legal fight of his life". Reuters. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  7. ^ http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2003/06/23/344612/
  8. ^ http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/day-oscar-wyatt-caved-0
  9. ^ Lynch, David J. "Prison term could cap oil trader's legendary career." USA Today. August 22, 2010. Retrieved on August 22, 2010.
  10. ^ http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2003/06/23/344612/
  11. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/28/us/28wyatt.html?_r=1&ref=oscarswyattjr
  12. ^ http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/day-oscar-wyatt-caved-0
  13. ^ "Oscar S. Wyatt, Jr". Retrieved 2013-09-09. 

Further reading[edit]

  • "Feds execute search warrant on Pelican Refinery". KPLC-TV. undated. Retrieved 2009-09-09. "Pelican was bought for $9 million dollars by Texas oil baron Oscar Wyatt and another investor when the refinery was in bankruptcy in 2004. More recently Wyatt figured prominently in the "Oil-for-food" scandal involving American oilmen paying illegal kickbacks to the late Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq -- in order to participate in selling Iraqi oil.

Wyatt was on trial in New York, but in October decided to plead guilty to wire fraud. He is to be sentenced November 27th. The plea deal reportedly calls for Wyatt to spend no more than two years behind bars and forfeit $11 million dollars.

Federal officials in Washington D.C. confirm only that search warrant was executed at the local refinery; they won't say whether this search is connected to Wyatt's Oil-for-food troubles or whether it stems from some unrelated environmental issues at the refinery near Lake Charles" 

External links[edit]