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Friday, July 4, 2008

Pick of The Week

The Oil-for-Food scandal revisited

Malaysia Today


On Sunday, the BBC reported as follows:

The Iraqi government has said it will file lawsuits in US courts against firms and people suspected of illegally profiting from a UN programme. The UN oil-for-food programme allowed Saddam Hussein's government to sell oil in order to buy humanitarian supplies during UN sanctions from 1996-2003. An inquiry found that 2,200 firms paid $1.8bn in bribes to Iraqi officials.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement that the legal action was to recover damages and hold those who benefited from the illegal activity accountable for their actions. "The oil-for-food programme was subject to huge financial scandals by companies and others [who] conspired with Saddam Hussein to embezzle large sums of money through kickbacks, inflated prices and the supply of shoddy goods," he said.

A UN-commissioned inquiry headed by former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker found that 2,200 companies in 66 countries had paid kickbacks to Iraqi officials to win supply contracts under the $60bn (£30bn) programme. The Iraqi statement did not name the firms or people the legal action will target nor when and in which courts the suits will be filed.

Two years ago, this was what the BBC said:

More than 2,000 firms linked to the UN oil-for-food programme in Iraq were involved in making illicit payments to the Iraqi government, a report says. It found Saddam Hussein received $1.8bn (£1bn) from firms including Daimler Chrysler and Volvo, and it also named individuals said to have benefited.

More than half of the 4,500 companies - from 60 countries - involved in the oil-for-food programme paid kickbacks or surcharges to the Iraqi government, Mr Volcker reported. The single largest bribe came from a Malaysian trading company, Mastek, which paid Iraq $10bn over a prolonged period, the report found.

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