United Nations A U.S. Senate committee probing corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program released new evidence Wednesday purporting to show that two leading politicians from Britain and France received millions of barrels of Iraqi oil in exchange for their support of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Citing contracts, letters and interviews with former Iraqi leaders, the probe set out evidence to back the claim that British lawmaker George Galloway and former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua accepted oil allocations under the scheme. Galloway and Pasqua have denied any wrongdoing in the oil-for-food program.
"This report exposes how Saddam Hussein turned the oil-for-food program on its head and used the program to reward his political allies like Pasqua and Galloway," Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman, chairman of the Senate's permanent subcommittee on investigations, said in a statement.
The oil-for-food program was designed to let Saddam's government sell oil in exchange for humanitarian goods to help the Iraqi people cope with U.N. sanctions imposed in 1991 following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
But Saddam manipulated the $64 billion program to earn illegal revenues and peddle influence by offering oil allocations to people who could then turn around and sell them to others.
Coleman's committee said Pasqua had received 11 million barrels from 1999 to 2000, and Galloway received 20 million barrels from 2000 to 2003.
The allegations against Pasqua and Galloway have been made before, including in a report last October by U.S. arms inspector Charles Duelfer.
But Coleman's report provided several new details. It also included information from interviews with former high-ranking officials now in U.S. custody, including former Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz.
Reached late Wednesday, aides to Pasqua refused to comment until after the report was publicly released today, while calls to Galloway and his representatives went unanswered.