New information on how Saddam Hussein manipulated the oil-for-food program appears in today's Associated Press from Desmond Butler
. Earlier this month the report of U.S. arms inspector Charles Duelfer revealed that various foreign companies and individuals from various countries, but predominantly from Russia, France and China, had received oil contracts from the former Iraqi government under the U.N. program.
Today's report is based on information from interviews with dozens of former and current iraqi officials by congressional investigators at the House International Relations Committee chaired by Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Illinois. The Iraqi officials were flown outside of Iraq for the interviews.
The need for protection of these witnesses became evident in late June, when an Iraqi official, Ehsan Karim, head of the Iraqi Finance Ministry's audit Board, was killed in a car bombing after having been interviewed in Amman, Jordan, on May 21.
The Iraqi officials provided lists of foreign companies favored by Saddam for import contracts under the oil-for-food program. They also revealed a parallel blacklist of companies disqualified from getting deals. Iraqi front companies that operated abroad to solicit and process bribes from foreign companies were identified.
The list of favored companies include some who appeared on Duelfer's report as getting oil vouchers, including Gazprom, Lukoil and Tatneft. There were also some obscure Western companies from Germany, Belgium, Cyprus, Italy and Switzerland appearing on the list. Various companies on the blacklist are censured for having done business with Israel.
Labels: China, Ehsan Karim, France, Iraq, Russia, Saddam Hussein, United Nations