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The UN has belatedly acknowledged the rampant corruption and abject failure of its administration of the Iraq oil-for-food program, finally agreeing to investigate more than six weeks after the list of payoffs from Saddam Hussein was published:
The United Nations has bowed to international pressure to investigate allegations of corruption surrounding its oil-for-food programme, under which Iraqi oil was sold on behalf of Saddam Hussein's regime.
The move follows claims that UN officials were caught up in a reward system set up by Saddam, which apparently granted proceeds from the sale of million of barrels of oil to friendly politicians, officials and businessmen around the world.
And why this sudden desire to set things straight? The new Iraqi government seems intent on finding where the money went, and have hired some big guns to hunt it down -- which may wind up embarassing more than the people currently on the lists:
Iraq's new governing council has hired the accountants KPMG and the international law firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, to investigate claims that large sums of money - which should have been spent on food and medicine for ordinary Iraqis - were diverted through oil "vouchers" to line pockets abroad.
In a letter to Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, an adviser to Iraq's interim governing council warns that the UN appeared to have "failed in its responsibility" to the Iraqi people and to the international community. "It will not come as a surprise if the Oil-for-Food Programme turns out to have been one of the world's most disgraceful scams, and an example of inadequate control, responsibility and transparency, providing an opportune vehicle for Saddam Hussein to operate under the UN aegis to continue his reign of terror and oppression," wrote Claude Hankes-Drielsma, a British businessman and former chairman of the management committee at Price Waterhouse accountants, on March 3.
This new investigation may wind up being an attempt by the UN to shanghai the Iraqi/KMPG investigation. The new Iraqi government should resist the UN's involvement, or at least continue to investigate on their own, parallel course. They should remember that these people sold them out to Hussein for a few (million) barrels of oil. And those Americans who believe that the UN is the answer for all international issues should pay particular attention to where all the money went: France and Russia, the two countries who vetoed any attempt to hold Saddam accountable for his refusal to cooperate with 17 UNSC resolutions.Sphere It View blog reactions
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