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UN Releases Oil-For-Food Report

27 October 2005 -- A UN report issued today says more than 2,000 firms that did business with Iraq in the now-defunct UN oil-for-food program were involved in bribes and kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's government.

The head of the inquiry, former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, said Hussein diverted some $1.8 billion in kickbacks and surcharges.

The firms involved include internationally known companies. The report says some of those firms took part knowingly, others inadvertently.

The report finds Russian, French and Chinese firms were given favorable treatment by Iraq. Russia, French and China are all permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Russian politicians and companies were heavily implicated in the report.

It cites Iraqi documents showing the Russian  Communist and Liberal Democratic parties companies each receiving large oil shipments for their support of Iraq.

Volcker said the report showed a pattern of favoritism by the Iraqi regime.

"Saddam plainly chose to favor those nations, companies, and individuals that he felt, rightly or wrongly, would assist his efforts to end the sanctions imposed at the end of the Gulf War," Volcker said. "It's also true, as our early reports  have emphasized, that political differences and pressures  within the United Nations organization itself -- the  Security Council, the secretariat, and some UN agencies --  frustrated appropriate and effective response to the manipulation and corruption of the program."

The report says Russian companies contracted for about $19.3 billion worth of oil from Iraq, about 30 percent of all oil sales during the time of the program.


Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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