Cost of the War in Iraq
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10/27/05

Oil for Food Kickbacks

NY Times Article

For those that don't want to sign up with the times so that you can read this, I've cut a couple of paragraphs out to illustrate my point.

United nations Oil for Food ScandalUNITED NATIONS, Oct. 26 - More than 4,500 companies took part in the United Nations oil-for-food program and more than half of them paid illegal surcharges and kickbacks to Saddam Hussein, according to the independent committee investigating the program.

Paul VolckerThe country with the most companies involved in the program was Russia, followed by France, the committee says in a report to be released Thursday. The inquiry was led by Paul A. Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.

It's no wonder those two countries did not want us to invade Iraq.

"Even though we are looking at it from the outside, it kind of screams out at you, 'Why didn't somebody blow a whistle?' The central point is that it all adds up to the same story. You need some pretty thoroughgoing reforms at the U.N."

Well, Duh. Yes they need to reform the UN. It has become more corrupt than many of it's nation members. However, with that said, most of the people I've seen posting on this blamed only the UN, when it is now obvious that several multinational corporations manipulated the system and worked within the boundaries of the corruption inside the UN and in Iraq, making them just as responsible.

Those manipulating the program ranged from established trading companies to front companies set up for the purpose, and included some companies of international reputation as well as many well known in their home countries, the investigators said.

Saddam hussein oil for food programMr. Hussein received $1.8 billion in illicit income from surcharges and kickbacks on the sales of oil and humanitarian goods during 1996-2003, when the program ran, the committee concluded in its last report in September.

At first, he said, companies balked at paying the extra fees, and the oil sales slowed. At that point, "less orthodox companies" came forward and accepted the terms, opening the way for the program's full scale exploitation and allowing legitimate companies to buy oil from illegitimate ones.

I suspect that not just "less orthodox companies" came forward, but that fronts were created to shield some of the larger multinational corporations, so they could later claim they knew nothing about it.

"The responses range from absolute denial to complete admittance," he said. "Some said, 'We had no knowledge of it' - that's a pretty standard response - and some said, 'If we paid it, we don't know we paid it.' "

Yeah, sure. We believe you. Yes innocent until proven guilty, blah blah blah, but the fact is with all we have seen of corporate corruption in the past few years, I'll have to assume the worst in this case. These corporations care only about the bottom line and the CEO's care about keeping their jobs. A little dealing with the enemy isn't going to stop them from making a profit.

The committee said some companies had complained that the evidence against them was gathered in Iraq and was therefore not trustworthy. But a lead investigator said that in those cases where corroborating evidence was available, the Iraqi information turned out to be sound.

"Everybody down the line kept very meticulous records because Saddam told them, 'You get the surcharge from everybody,' " he said. "So they all wanted to document how they got the surcharge."

The question is, when this is turned over to American Prosecutors, will they really go after the companies and individuals who dealt with Saddam Hussein no matter where it leads or will it all get brushed over because of the power of the energy lobby?

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