France protests to US over Iraq scam charges

8th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

WASHINGTON, Oct 7 (AFP) - France on Thursday complained to the United States over accusations that French nationals and businesses took bribes from Iraq made in a report by the chief US weapons inspector.

WASHINGTON, Oct 7 (AFP) - France on Thursday complained to the United States over accusations that French nationals and businesses took bribes from Iraq made in a report by the chief US weapons inspector.  

The French embassy approached the White House and the US State Department to express anger at the way the allegations were made public.  

"The ambassador told the White House and the State Department of our displeasure concerning the methods used," an embassy official told AFP.  

The official said France was particularly unhappy about "the fact that the names of individuals and companies were made public without any apparent attempt to verify the allegations, and without giving them an opportunity to explain themselves."  

The study by the Iraq Survey Group said former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein paid millions of dollars in cash and petrol export vouchers to elicit help in his bid to end the UN sanctions regime on his country.  

Mentioned in the Deulfer report are former French interior minister Charles Pasqua and Patrick Maugein, an official of the French petroleum company Soco International said to be close to French President Jacques Chirac.  

Pasqua and Maugein have strenuously denied accepting consideration from the Saddam regime.  

France and Russia were the main recipients, according Duelfer's report, by virtue of the influence they wielded as permanent members of the UN Security Council.  

The French foreign ministry denied the accusations earlier, calling them "unverified, either with those concerned or with the authorities of the concerned countries."  

Duelfer's report, citing documents recovered from Saddam's intelligence services, said the Iraqi payments particularly targeted French political, economic and journalistic circles.  

The report refers to a list published last January by the Baghdad newspaper Al-Mada of some 200 names from 40 countries that allegedly peddled influence with Iraq in return for export vouchers for millions of barrels of oil.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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