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November 21, 2004

Shock: UN Knew of Oil-For-Food Scam

That's not actually the shock. The shock is that the BBC of all people is reporting it:

The United Nations knew that Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was stealing from the oil-for-food program - and, by extension, starving his own people - but did little to stop it, according to a special report by the BBC at the weekend.

After a six-month investigation, the BBC said it had evidence that Saddam took billions from the oil-for-food program, and that "these abuses were widely known about at the time". The BBC said there was evidence that Saddam demanded a kickback from companies that wanted to do business with Iraq under the oil-for-food program.
...

The BBC sent a reporter to Iraq and Jordan to track down people involved in the oil-for-food program, which has been described as the largest financial swindle in history. Virtually all said that Saddam took kickbacks from companies who sold goods to Iraq, and that the UN knew this. The businessmen - most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity - said it was standard to pay commissions, that nobody complained, and that was the price of doing business with Iraq.

A Jordanian banker said it was an open secret that contracts were inflated so Saddam could take 10 per cent. "We knew it was there," he said. "(But) actually, it's not our business, you know. Banks are (only) interested in their money, and to make money."

This is cute:

The allegations have left the UN fighting for its reputation. The oil-for-food program is being investigated by six US congressional committees and by the UN itself.

Many UN officials believe the US is trying to divert media attention towards the oil-for-food program as a way of punishing the UN for failing to back the war in Iraq.

Others believe the US is using the investigations as a way of distracting attention from the war. Mr Shay said: "Well, the UN is sure making it easy (to attack)."

Gee, you think?


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posted by Ace at 03:05 PM

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