Sunday, October 03, 2004

Still Awaiting Anti-War Explanation: Saddam Bought UN Allies

A LEAKED report has exposed the extent of alleged corruption in the United Nations’ oil-for-food scheme in Iraq, identifying up to 200 individuals and companies that made profits running into hundreds of millions of pounds from it. The report largely implicates France and Russia, whom Saddam Hussein targeted as he sought support on the UN Security Council before the Iraq war. Both countries were influential voices against UN-backed action.

A senior UN official responsible for the scheme is identified as a major beneficiary. The report, marked “highly confidential”, also finds that the private office of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, profited from the cheap oil. Saddam’s regime awarded this oil during the run-up to the war when military action was being discussed at the UN.

The report was drawn up on behalf of the interim Iraqi government in preparation for a possible legal action against those who may have illicitly profited under Saddam. The Iraqis hired the London-based accountants KPMG and lawyers Freshfields to advise on future action.

It details a catalogue of alleged bribery and corruption perpetrated by Saddam under the UN programme, revealing how the regime lined its pockets and those of influential politicians, journalists and UN officials.

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