View Full Version : Iraq Set Aside $15 Million To Bribe U.N. Leader

09-07-2005, 08:57 PM
Iraq set aside $15 million to bribe UN leader


By Irwin Arieff 28 minutes ago

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iraq set aside $15 million 10 years ago to bribe or otherwise influence then-U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to shape the oil-for-food program to Saddam Hussein's liking, investigators said on Wednesday.

Iraqi officials gave millions of that in cash in the mid- to late-1990s to middlemen who were supposed to bribe or influence Boutros-Ghali, according to the findings of the Independent Inquiry Committee led by Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

There was no evidence that Boutros-Ghali, who left the United Nations in 1996 after a single term, received any of the money or knew about the scheme, the investigators said.

Among the cast of characters in the complex scheme were Tongsun Park, a South Korean who played a central role in a 1970s Washington influence peddling scandal, and Iraqi-American oilman Samir Vincent, both of whom have been charged with federal crimes in connection with the oil-for-food program.

Also involved were Canadian businessman and longtime U.N. aide Maurice Strong and Cordex Petroleums Inc., a now-bankrupt Canadian oil company whose major investors included Strong's son Frederick and CSL Group Inc., a holding company owned by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.

The findings came out of Volcker's year-long investigation into corruption and mismanagement in the $64-billion humanitarian aid program, which began in 1996 and was shut down in 2003 after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Iraq launched its costly effort to influence the shape of the program in 1995, on orders from then-Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz, investigators said.

"The purpose of the bribe, according to Oil Minister Amer Rasheed, would be to ensure that the secretary-general would be more flexible and would take steps to ease the conclusion of oil-for-food negotiations," the investigators' report said.

In 1996, as the United Nations and Iraqi officials negotiated over how the oil-for-food plan would operate, Iraq gave millions to Vincent in three installments.

Vincent in turn passed money to Park, a longtime acquaintance of Boutros-Ghali. At one point, $60,000 in cash was given Park in a shopping bag, the report said.

Vincent then reported to the Iraqis on meetings that Park said he had with Boutros-Ghali, who met with Park frequently while the talks were taking place, investigators said.

The report also said Boutros-Ghali used Vincent to pass an oral message back to the Iraqis, although Boutros-Ghali denied this ever happened.

Vincent, who was interested in oil deals with Iraq at a time U.N. sanctions barred Baghdad from selling oil, became known to the Iraqis and senior U.N. officials years earlier.

In 1993, he had asked Theodore Sorensen, a lawyer and once a top aide to U.S. President John Kennedy, for legal advice on how the U.N. might go about setting up an oil-for-food plan.

Sorensen's wife Gillian Martin Sorensen worked at the time as a senior aide to Boutros-Ghali.

Park, who had also worked with Vincent since 1993 on the oil-for-food idea, told associates he gave nearly $1 million in 1997 to Maurice Strong, who was then advising Boutros-Ghali and had been lobbied by Iraqi officials to get involved in Iraq.

Park carried the money out of Iraq in a cardboard box, and it ended up invested in Cordex, which had been established by Frederick Strong and failed soon afterward, the report said.

Strong, who lost his job as an adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in mid-July, said he had no memory of getting a check from Park but when shown the check, said he recognized his signature on the endorsement.

Investigators said Strong had no involvement with Iraqi affairs at the United Nations and there was no evidence he took any actions at the request of Iraqi officials.

09-07-2005, 11:24 PM
Fox News has been all over this story since day 1 and has been pushing for reform.
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