Thursday, April 22, 2004

It just keeps getting better and better 

This story might well dwarf Enron, Parmelat and BCCI, as the biggest financial fraud and scandal in history. Yes, we're onto the UN-sponsored Oil for Food scam again (see here and here for previous posts).

Claude Hankes-Drielsma, the former chairman of Price Waterhouse, who is now overseeing on behalf of the Iraqi Governing Council the KPMG investigation into the programme, expects that hundreds of politicians, businesspeople and UN officials could face criminal charges over siphoning off up to $10 billion from funds which were designed to give Iraqis food and medicine during the economic sanction years. That's your "international community" in action.

Says Hankes-Drielsma: "From the evidence I have so far, the report will produce some of the most disturbing information that you have ever seen... There is no question that where the evidence is beyond doubt, the US will take action to put people who defrauded the system to court, and for the courts to apply appropriate justice. That may be criminal courts as well as civil ones."

"Every person within the UN knew what was going on, irrespective of whether they benefited."

The report goes to say Hankes-Drielsma "believes investigations will show that France and Russia, both staunch opponents of the Iraq war, were the greatest beneficiaries of the scheme."

The KPMG report into the Oil for Spoils fiasco is expected in May.

Meanwhile the stench of corruption is getting so strong, that the UN has finally been forced to act, with the former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Paul Volcker, being appointed to head an internal investigation.

"Volcker assumed his post as head of a three-man team after he was assured that all 15 members of the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution to back the investigation, which will include a probe of contracts with Iraq around the world," Reuters reports.

Kofi Annan says he wants to get to the bottom of it. And so he should, seeing that the documents from Saddam's oil ministry allegedly show that the Oil for Food's UN director, Benon Sevan, might have himself scammed off up to $3.5 million worth of oil.

Sevan has apparently been on holidays in Australia since the scandal broke. Welcome Down Under, Mr Sevan, and enjoy your well deserved break.


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