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The 7 - Current Events & Politics - More on UN Oil for Food Scandal Register and log in to post!
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Grimis
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#1 Posted on 29.3.04 1322.35
Reposted on: 29.3.11 1325.25
Is anybody less than surprised that Kofi Annan's son was on the payroll? Anybody else surprised the media is ingnoring this? Anybody else surprised that the US gets blamed for it anyway.

(sigh)
* * * * * * * *
3,000 UN Staffers Probed
by Niles Lathe

March 29, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - Investigators probing the United Nations' Iraq oil-for-food program are taking a close look at allegations the scandal-plagued initiative was filled with spies, terrorists and do-nothing bureaucrats earning exorbitant salaries.
The activities of the estimated 3,000 U.N. staffers who were working on the $100 billion humanitarian aid program are emerging as a central focus of the investigations into the mushrooming scandal.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a letter to the U.N. Security Council seeking backing for an independent investigation of the kickback/bribery scandal, said he wants the probe to focus, in part, on whether the U.N. staffers violated procedures established for approving and monitoring contracts and whether U.N. personnel engaged "in any illicit or corrupt activities."

So far, the only U.N. figure to be named publicly in the scandal is Benon Sevon, the man in charge of the oil-for-food program. He was on a list of 270 names - published in a Baghdad newspaper - of international politicians and businessmen who were receiving vouchers from Iraq to buy oil at below-market prices so it could be resold at substantial profits. Sevon has denied the charge, but has been put on ice - purportedly "on vacation" - until the end of the month, when he is due to retire.

But new questions have surfaced about the presence on the oil-for-food program's administrative staff of a bureaucrat who was widely known to be an undercover agent for the intelligence service of France, a country that had huge financial interests in the program.

Kurdish officials in northern Iraq also made repeated complaints about the fact that Iraq, with U.N. approval, kept Americans, Britons and Scandinavians off the staff that administered the 13 percent of the oil-for-food proceeds earmarked for Kurdish provinces. Only workers from countries perceived to be friendly to Iraq were approved. Howard Ziad, the Kurdish representative to the United Nations, told The Post that Kurdish authorities made repeated complaints to U.N. higher-ups that the staff assigned to his region was riddled with spies working for Iraqi intelligence.

In July 2001, Kurdish security forces arrested a Tunisian U.N. employee with a car full of explosives meant for a terror bombing in Erbil. He was held for four months until the United Nations quietly negotiated his release, Ziad said.

* * * * * * * *
Follow-Up to Kofigate
By WILLIAM SAFIRE

ASHINGTON — Never has there been a financial rip-off of the magnitude of the U.N. oil-for-food scandal.

At least $5 billion in kickbacks went from corrupt contractors — mainly French and Russian — into the pockets of Saddam and his thugs. Some went to pay off his protectors in foreign governments and media, and we may soon see how much stuck to the fingers of U.N. bureaucrats as well.

Responding to a harangue in this space on March 17, the spokesman for Kofi Annan confirmed that the secretary general's soft-spoken son, Kojo, was on the payroll of Cotecna Inspections of Switzerland until December 1998. In that very month, the U.N. awarded Cotecna the contract to monitor and authenticate the goods shipped to Iraq.

Prices were inflated to allow for 10 percent kickbacks, and the goods were often shoddy and unusable. As the lax Cotecna made a lot of corporate friends, Iraqi children suffered from rotted food and diluted medicines.

The U.N. press agent also revealed that Benon Sevan, Annan's longtime right-hand man in charge of the flow of billions, was advised by U.N. lawyers that the names of companies receiving the contracts were "privileged commercial information, which could not be made public." Mr. Sevan had stonewalling help.

To shift responsibility for the see-no-evil oversight, the U.N. spokesman noted that "details of all contracts were made available to the governments of all 15 Security Council members." All the details, including the regular 10 percent kickback to the tune of $5 billion in illegal surcharges? We'll see.

To calm the belated uproar, Annan felt compelled to seek an "independent high-level inquiry," empowered by a Security Council resolution, as some of us called for.

Nothing doing, said France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sablière. The money for the huge heist known as the Iraq-U.N. account passed exclusively through BNP Paribas. French companies led all the rest (what's French for "kickback"?), though Vladimir Putin's favorite Russian oligarchs insisted on sharing the wealth. That explains why Paris and Moscow were Saddam's main prewar defenders, and why their politicians and executives now want no inquiry they cannot control.

Nor are the White House and State Department so eager for a real investigation, because as the truth emerges, the U.N. may use the furor as cover for refusal to confer its blessing on the new Iraq. Our present and former U.S. ambassadors to the U.N. would have to take issue with Annan if he tried to hide under their wing. Peter Burleigh and Andrew Hillman, our frequent representatives on the "661 committee" — so named for a sanctions resolution — are not about to be the U.N.'s scapegoats.

If the secretary general appoints a Franco-Russian Whitewash Team, to whom can the world turn?

1. The Iraqi government-in-formation. Spurred by Kurds who have been blowing the whistle on this superscam for five years, free Iraq has hired accountants and lawyers to sift through captured bills and contracts in Baghdad. Former spooks are freelancing usefully. Paul Bremer, our man in Baghdad, has placed a trove of additional half-corrupted tapes and damaged and damaging documents under seal to be turned over after June 30, Sovereignty Day.

2. The House International Relations Committee's chairman, Henry Hyde, whose interviewers are in New York today, will hold initial hearings on April 21. Congress's investigative arm, the General Accounting Office, will testify about the scope of the chicanery that it estimates at $10 billion (including Saddam's clandestine oil smuggling to Syria and Jordan). It's a start that should awaken Senate Foreign Relations as well as Justice.

3. The press, stimulated by U.N. stonewalling, is on the trail.

Al Mada led the way. Already denying the feisty Iraq newspaper's findings are a former French interior minister, a pro-Saddam member of Britain's Parliament, Arab writers and a financier reportedly behind a Scott Ritter film. The Times, Wall Street Journal and Sunday Telegraph have been exposing the outline of what Newsday admits is "the most underreported story of the year." Among magazines, National Review is out front with no interest shown by The New Yorker and Newsweek.

All of us need an embittered whistleblower. If an ex-U.N. type named Shaukat Fareed reads this — call me.


(edited by Grimis on 29.3.04 1423)
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The Amazing Salami
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#2 Posted on 29.3.04 1423.37
Reposted on: 29.3.11 1427.41
This is only tangentially on topic, but I think it's totally retarded that every scandal now has -gate at the end of it. Kofigate....bleh.

I mean, it's not like Watergate had anything to do with water. It was just the stupid name of the freakin' hotel.
JoshMann
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#3 Posted on 29.3.04 1434.48
Reposted on: 29.3.11 1435.58
It's catchy, it has a beat and the media can dance to it, that's all. Besides, it's not like it requires a great deal of explanation to anyone with an IQ bigger than their shoe size.

It's a golden rule of Newspaper/Television Reporting: Never say in 10 words what you can get accross in one or two. Or in that case of TV, with a cute graphic that says "-GATE" in it.
The Amazing Salami
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#4 Posted on 29.3.04 1437.55
Reposted on: 29.3.11 1437.56
It still sucks.

(there's less than 10 words for you)

(edited by The Amazing Salami on 29.3.04 1238)
redsoxnation
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#5 Posted on 29.3.04 1519.26
Reposted on: 29.3.11 1522.56
Except to protect Israel in the Security Council, is there a real reason why the U.S. still is in the U.N.?
And all the staffers can be probed that they want, they'll all hide under diplomatic immunity and will go unpunished.
First candidate that promises to throw all the U.N. reps in the East River gets my vote come November.
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