OCTOBER 27, 2005
It is not surprising that the final report of an ongoing independent investigation reveals that the United Nation’s oil-for-food program was so badly managed and supervised that more than half of the 4,500 companies doing business with Iraq paid Saddam Hussein illegal surcharges and kickbacks.
The lengthy inquiry details how the U.N. and its member governments failed to stop the dictator’s exploitation of the $64-billion program?created to help Iraqis weather international sanctions imposed after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait–and will expose the participation of prominent international companies.
Russian companies are the most implicated in the report, followed by French firms. American companies made up a very small percentage though several have already been charged in the scandal, including Virginia-based Midway Trading which recently paid a $250,000 fine for its role in the fiasco.
The investigation was conducted by a committee, which has spent 18 months and $30 million investigating the widespread fraud of the program that allowed Iraq to sell oil through the U.N. so that the proceeds could be used to purchase “humanitarian” goods.
Instead, an investigative committee member said: “The corruption was so widespread that literally thousands of companies were caught up in it. To play, you needed to pay.”
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