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thedrifter
04-21-04, 10:09 AM
Monumental Rip-Off?
Allegations of Widespread Corruption Involve Saddam Hussein, U.N. Senior Officials

By Brian Ross

April 20 — At least three senior United Nations officials are suspected of taking multimillion-dollar bribes from the Saddam Hussein regime, U.S. and European intelligence sources tell ABCNEWS.

One year after his fall, U.S. officials say they have evidence, some in cash, that Saddam diverted to his personal bank accounts approximately $5 billion from the United Nations Oil-for-Food program.

In what has been described as the largest humanitarian aid effort ever undertaken, the U.N. Oil-for-Food program began in 1996 to help Iraqis who were suffering under sanctions imposed following the first Gulf War.

The program allowed Iraq to sell limited amounts of oil, under supposedly tight U.N. supervision, to finance the purchase of much-needed humanitarian goods.

Most prominent among those accused in the scandal is Benon Sevan, the Cyprus-born U.N. undersecretary general who ran the program for six years.

In an interview with ABCNEWS last year, Sevan denied any wrongdoing.

"Well, I can tell you there have been no allegations about me," he said. "Maybe you can try to dig it out." And in a Feb. 10 statement, Sevan challenged those making the allegations to "come forward and provide the necessary documentary evidence" and present it to U.N. investigators.

But documents have surfaced in Baghdad, in the files of the former Iraqi Oil Ministry, allegedly linking Sevan to a pay-off scheme in which some 270 prominent foreign officials received the right to trade in Iraqi oil at cut-rate prices.

"It's almost like having coupons of bonds or shares. You can sell those coupons to other people who are normal oil traders," said Claude Hankes-Drielsma, a British adviser to the Iraq Governing Council.

Investigators say the smoking gun is a letter to former Iraqi oil minister Amer Mohammed Rasheed, obtained by ABCNEWS and not yet in the hands of the United Nations.

In the letter, dated Aug. 10, 1998, an Iraqi oil executive mentions a request by a Panama-based company, African Middle East Petroleum Co., to buy Iraqi oil — along with a suggestion that Sevan had a role in the deal. "Mr. Muwafaq Ayoub of the Iraqi mission in New York informed us by telephone that the abovementioned company is the company that Mr. Sevan cited to you during his last trip to Baghdad," the executive wrote in Arabic.

A handwritten note indicated that permission for the oil purchase was granted by "the Vice President of the Republic" on Aug. 15, 1998.

The second page of the letter contains a table titled "Quantity of Oil Allocated and Given to Mr. Benon Sevan." The table lists a total of 7.3 million barrels of oil as the "quantity executed" — an amount that, if true, would have generated an illegal profit of as much as $3.5 million.

"Somebody who is running the Oil-for-Food program for the United Nations should not be receiving any benefit of any kind from a rogue dictator who was perpetuating terror in his country," said Hankes-Drielsma.

Full Investigation Announced

The United Nations, at first, dismissed the allegations about Sevan, but this week, Secretary General Kofi Annan said there would be a full investigation led by the former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, Paul Volcker.

"We are going to investigate these allegations very seriously," Annan said during a press conference.

In addition, Congress is scheduled to begin hearings into the bribery scandal this week.

As for Sevan, when news of the scandal first broke earlier this year, he took a long vacation to Australia.

He declined to answer questions when ABCNEWS found him last week staying at a luxury casino resort.

A U.N. spokesman says Sevan, who makes $186,000 a year, has submitted his retirement papers, effective May 21. The spokesman said Sevan would remain on full salary through the course of the U.N. investigation, which is expected to last at least three months.

Oil Contracts for Political Support

The inquiries into the United Nations Oil-for-Food program result from the release in January of a list of 270 individuals, companies and institutions that allegedly received lucrative oil contracts from Saddam Hussein's former regime in return for political support.

The list was published by an Iraqi independent newspaper which claimed the document was discovered in the files of the former Iraqi Oil Ministry in Baghdad.

Oil vouchers were allegedly given either as gifts or as payment for goods imported into Iraq in violation of the U.N. sanctions.

The following are the names of some of those listed as receiving Iraqi oil contracts (amounts are in millions of barrels of oil):

Russia
The Companies of the Russian Communist Party: 137 million
The Companies of the Liberal Democratic Party: 79.8 million
The Russian Committee for Solidarity with Iraq: 6.5 million and 12.5 million (two separate contracts)
Head of the Russian Presidential Cabinet: 90 million
The Russian Orthodox Church: 5 million


France
Charles Pasqua, former minister of interior: 12 million
Trafigura (Patrick Maugein), businessman: 25 million
Ibex: 47.2 million
Bernard Merimee, former French ambassador to the United Nations: 3 million
Michel Grimard, founder of the French-Iraqi Export Club: 17.1 million


Syria
Firas Mostafa Tlass, son of Syria's defense minister: 6 million

Turkey
Zeynel Abidin Erdem: more than 27 million
Lotfy Doghan: more than 11 million

Indonesia
Megawati Sukarnoputri: 11 million

Spain
Ali Ballout, Lebanese journalist: 8.8 million

Yugoslavia
The Socialist Party: 22 million
Kostunica's Party: 6 million

Canada
Arthur Millholland, president and CEO of Oilexco: 9.5 million

Italy
Father Benjamin, a French Catholic priest who arranged a meeting between the pope and Tariq Aziz: 4.5 million
Roberto Frimigoni: 24.5 million

United States
Samir Vincent: 7 million
Shakir Alkhalaji: 10.5 million

United Kingdom
George Galloway, member of Parliament: 19 million
Mujaheddin Khalq: 36.5 million

South Africa
Tokyo Saxwale: 4 million

Jordan
Shaker bin Zaid: 6.5 million
The Jordanian Ministry of Energy: 5 million
Fawaz Zureikat: 6 million
Toujan Al Faisal, former member of Parliament: 3 million

Lebanon
The son of President Lahoud: 5.5 million

Egypt
Khaled Abdel Nasser: 16.5 million
Emad Al Galda, businessman and Parliament member: 14 million

Palestinian Territories
The Palestinian Liberation Organization: 4 million
Abu Al Abbas: 11.5 million

Qatar
Hamad bin Ali Al Thany: 14 million

Libya
Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem: 1 million

Chad
Foreign minister of Chad: 3 million

Brazil
The October 8th Movement: 4.5 million

Myanmar (Burma)
The minister of the Forests of Myanmar: 5 million

Ukraine
The Social Democratic Party: 8.5 million
The Communist Party: 6 million
The Socialist Party: 2 million
The FTD oil company: 2 million

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/WNT/Investigation/oil_for_food_ripoff_040420-1.html


Ellie

thedrifter
04-21-04, 10:10 AM
The Oil-for-Food Scam: What Did Kofi Annan Know, and When Did He Know It? <br />
<br />
Claudia Rosett <br />
<br />
For years, the United Nations Oil-for-Food program was just one more blip on the multilateral...

thedrifter
04-21-04, 10:11 AM
An issue that would later become important was how, precisely, the responsibilities for executing the program were parceled out between the Security Council—a committee of fifteen member states—and...

thedrifter
04-21-04, 10:12 AM
Then came the autumn of 2002, when President Bush delivered his warning to Saddam to comply with sixteen previous UN resolutions to disarm, and the U.S. persuaded the Security Council to pass a...

thedrifter
04-21-04, 10:13 AM
Based on the facts as I know them at the present time, the UN failed in its responsibility to the Iraqi people and the international community at large. The UN should not be surprised that the Iraqi...

thedrifter
04-21-04, 10:14 AM
3 This is especially significant in light of the role that would be played by Saddam’s televised propaganda during the war. In the event, Saddam may have had to rely on equipment brought in earlier under Oil-for-Food from places like France and Jordan. He was unable to take delivery of TV studio equipment ordered from Russia and approved and funded by the Secretariat on February 7, 2003, just six weeks before the war. But that was not for want of Kofi Annan’s approval.

4 Not only the occupation authority but the Iraqis themselves have failed to penetrate the UN wall of disdain, although it is their own money they wish to know about. The Iraqi Central Bank began requesting copies of the relevant BNP bank statements in July 2003. Not until late March of this year, after I aired the matter in a piece in National Review Online, was there some halting sign of movement in the UN treasurer’s office. Similar stonewalling—no accounting given, no access to statements—has met the repeated efforts of Kurds in northern Iraq to find out what happened to about $4 billion in separate allocations owed to them under Oil-for-Food.

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/SpecialArticle.asp?article=A11705017_1


Ellie