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Archive for Friday, October 28, 2005

Probe finds $2,000 in payments to Iraq

October 28, 2005

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— Investigators of the U.N. oil-for-food program issued a final report Thursday that accused more than 2,200 U.S. and foreign companies, and prominent politicians, of colluding with Saddam Hussein's regime to bilk the operation of $1.8 billion.

The 623-page document was a scathing indictment that exposed the global scope of a scam that allegedly involved such name-brand companies as DaimlerChrysler and Siemens AG, as well as a former French U.N. ambassador, a firebrand British politician and the president of Italy's Lombardi region.

It meticulously detailed how the $64 billion program became a cash cow for Saddam and more than half the companies participating in oil-for-food.

Volcker and many nations said the report underscored the urgent need to reform the United Nations. Earlier reports in his investigation have already led to criminal inquiries and indictments in the United States, France, and Switzerland.

The investigators found that companies and individuals from 66 countries paid illegal kickbacks using a variety of methods.

Most of the contracts went to Russian and French companies and individuals, who were rewarded for their governments' outspoken opposition to the sanctions. But the report found that even firms in countries supportive of the sanctions, such as the United States, found ways to manipulate the system illegally - sometimes by using Russian firms as middlemen.

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