Friday, October 28, 2005


2,200 firms implicted in UN oil-for-food scandal: report 2005-10-28 10:14:25

Paul Volcker, committee chair for the Independent Inquiry Committee into the United Nations Oil-For-Food Programme, delivers findings during the presentation of the last report in New York, October 27, 2005.

BEIJING, Oct. 28 -- Investigators of the UN oil-for-food program issued a final report Thursday accusing more than 2,200 companies and some politicians of colluding with Saddam Hussein's regime to bilk the humanitarian operation of $1.8 billion.

The 623-page document exposed the global scope of a scam that allegedly involved such name-brand companies as DaimlerChrysler and Siemens AG, as well as a former French U.N. ambassador, a firebrand British politician and the president of Italy's Lombardi region.

Under the program, Iraq sold a total of $64.2 billion of oil to 248 companies, of which 139 paid illicit surcharges. In turn, some 3,614 companies sold $34.5 billion of humanitarian goods to Iraq and 2,253 paid kickbacks, the report said.

The program, which began in December 1996 and ended in 2003, was aimed at easing the impact of UN sanctions imposed in 1990 after Baghdad's troops invaded Kuwait. It allowed Iraq to sell oil to pay for food, medicine and other goods.

But Saddam, who could choose the buyers of Iraqi oil and the sellers of humanitarian goods, corrupted the program by awarding contracts to and getting kickbacks from favored buyers.

The companies involved came from 66 nations, including large corporations in the United States, Russia, France, Germany and Switzerland. Russia, then an ally of Iraq, led the list of both legitimate and illegitimate oil contracts, getting $19.3 billion from Iraq, some 30 percent of all oil sales, according to the Reuters report.

The U.N.-established Independent Inquiry Committee, led by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, also named politicians in Russia, France, Britain, Italy and elsewhere who were given favors by Saddam in his quest to get U.N. sanctions lifted.

The report blamed shoddy UN management and the world's most powerful countries for allowing it to go on for years, underscoring the urgent need to reform the United Nations.

"The corruption of the program by Saddam would not nearly have been so pervasive if there had been diligent management by the United Nations and its agencies," said Paul Volcker.

Buddha says; "If a man does something wrong, let him not do it again and again. Let him find no pleasure in his sin, painful is the accumulation of wrongdoings."

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