Alex Trebek: “The category is Global Jeopardy!, for $1,000: 3 Nations Reportedly Slowed Probe of Oil Sales”
Contestant Ken Jennings: “What are France, Russia and China?”
No, this didn’t take place on TV (you could say I’m being “fake but accurate”), but the article is in the NYTimes. The article reads,
. The briefing paper was prepared by the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, before hearings scheduled for Tuesday on the scandal-ridden program.
The paper suggests that France, Russia and China blocked inquiries into Iraq’s manipulation of the program because their companies “had much to gain from maintaining” the status quo. “Their businesses made billions of dollars through their involvement with the Hussein regime and O.F.F.P.,” the document states, using the initials for the program. No officials of the three governments could be reached for comment.
The paper also accuses the United Nations office charged with overseeing the program of having “pressed” contractors not to rigorously inspect Iraqi oil being sold and the foreign goods being bought. The program office, headed by Benan Sevan, who is also under investigation by a committee appointed by the United Nations, turned a blind eye to corruption charges, the paper says, because it apparently saw oil-for-food “strictly as a humanitarian program.”
. . .
The briefing paper said the hearing would focus on Cotecna, the Switzerland-based company hired by the United Nations in 1999 to monitor goods shipped to Iraq, and Saybolt International B.V., the Dutch company that monitored Iraqi oil exports.
Also under scrutiny will be BNP Paribas, the French bank that handled oil revenues under the program and which “never initiated a review of the program or the reputation of those involved,” the paper says. This “apparent incuriosity,” it adds, “raises questions about its internal due diligence and ethical safeguards.”
It is worth noticing that Kojo Annan, Kofi’s son, worked at Cotecna. The investagation, to which I referred to last Tuesday Sept. 28, is finally getting some attention from the MSM papers — even the London Times (article via the Barcepundit)
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 other main allegations included in the report are that:
- Benon Sevan, director of the UN oil-for-food programme, received 9.3m barrels of oil from the regime which he is estimated to have sold for a profit of £670,000. Sevan has always denied any improper conduct.
- A former senior aide to Putin allegedly organised the sale of almost 4m barrels of oil at a profit of more than £330,000. At the time the oil was sold, Russia was blocking the UN from supporting America’s demands to attack Iraq. According to the report, the aide, who worked in the presidential office, received 3.9m barrels of oil between May and December 2002.
- In the two months during the run-up to the war, the Iraqi regime illegally sold about £30m of oil to a Jordanian-based company with the money deposited in a Jordanian bank account established by the regime. This is suspected to have been an attempt to secure safe passage for Saddam’s family in the event of war.
- A French oil company teamed up with the regime to bribe a UN-appointed inspector monitoring exports of Iraqi oil. The inspector, a Portuguese national working for Saybolt, a Dutch firm, was paid a total of £58,000 in cash to forge export documents.
The French firm is linked to a close associate of Jacques Chirac, the country’s president. A spokesman for Saybolt said it would be investigating the allegations.
- Saddam imposed a surcharge of between 10 cents and 50 cents (5p to 27p) for every barrel of oil allocated by his regime between September 2000 and the end of 2002.
The money raised from this illegal surcharge was deposited in bank accounts in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates. Iraqi embassies, including those in Moscow, Athens, Cairo, Rome, Vienna and Geneva, collected the money
Fox News, producers of the documentary “United Nations Blood Money”, has come under attack by the UN. Friends of Saddam has details. No wonder Jane has misgivings about the UN, and Roger calls it The Subject About Which Kerry Dare Not Ever Speak.