ATLANTA -- Breaking nearly three years of silence, Christopher D. Drogoul said neither top officials of Italy's Banca Nazionale del Lavoro nor the U.S. government had formally approved the $5.5 billion in unauthorized loans he made to Iraq.

Mr. Drogoul, 42, Lavoro's former Atlanta branch manager, made the statements Tuesday at his plea bargain hearing before a federal district judge in Atlanta.

But he also left open the possibility that Lavoro or U.S. officials might have been aware of some of his activities, which cost Lavoro $1.8 billion in losses.

"There are substantial people involved, and I intend to give that information," Mr. Drogoul told U.S. district Judge Marvin Shoob.

But under continued prodding from the judge, Mr. Drogoul declined to give names, saying he needed to review the documents in the case before he could give a full account to federal prosecutors.

In statements likely to fuel the controversy surrounding the case, Judge Shoob repeatedly said he doubted Mr. Drogoul was making a full disclosure.

"I don't believe Mr. Drogoul was the only person involved in these machinations," he said, adding that the case "ought to have a special prosecutor."

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