Saturday, February 28, 2004

The UN's Oil-for-Kickbacks program 

The New York Times has a very interesting, in-depth look at where the Oil-for-Food money went. (Hint: Not all of it was used to buy food and medical supplies for Iraqis. Not by a long shot.)

UPDATE: By the way, some of the individuals and companies allegedly involved in the kickbacks include a French diplomat, numerous Russian companies, and some Chinese ones too. All from permanent members of the UN Security Council that voted against military action. Imagine that.

Roger Simon has been all over this story for a while (since late December, thanks for catching on so fast, New York Times), and he has a few good posts about it:

December 30th, January 2nd, January 19th, January 27th, January 31st, February 9th, February 14th, February 19th, February 25th

Oh, and there's more. Check out how naive the UN was about the program. Just read...

Here's what the NYT article says today:

United Nations overseers say they were unaware of the systematic skimming of oil-for-food revenues. They were focused on running aid programs and assuring food deliveries, they add.

The director of the Office of Iraq Programs, Benon V. Sevan, declined to be interviewed about the oil-for-food program. In written responses to questions sent by e-mail, his office said he learned of the 10 percent kickback scheme from the occupation authority only after the end of major combat operations.
That is total, unadulterated crap:
The United States and Britain want a U.N. panel monitoring sanctions to reduce the list of operators purchasing Iraqi oil in an attempt to stop alleged kickbacks to Baghdad, diplomats reported on Wednesday...

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a Tuesday report on the "oil-for-food" humanitarian program for Iraq, included a warning on the surcharge, saying buyers had been informed that the United Nations had not approved "a surcharge of any kind on Iraqi oil" and they should not pay it.
--Reuters, 11 March 2001

The UN Office of the Iraq Programme says the same thing, right there on their own site in a 19 December 2000 report. (I incorrectly said 2001 earlier.):

On Friday, 15 December, the Security Council’s 661 sanctions committee for Iraq requested the United Nations oil overseers to convey to the buyers of Iraqi oil the Committee’s position on the reported surcharge for the purchase of Iraqi oil. In a letter to the buyers the oil overseers noted that the Committee had not approved a surcharge of any kind on Iraqi oil. Payments for the purchase of Iraqi crude oil could not be made to a non-UN account and, therefore, buyers of Iraqi oil should not pay any kind of surcharge to Iraq.
The UN either had its head in the sand or really didn't care to look into the kickbacks. Either way, they're guilty of complicity in robbing the Iraqi people of food and humanitarian goods. Shame. (Oh, and lining Saddam's pockets. Can't leave that out.)
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