French ex-diplomat probed in oil-for-food scandal

12th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 11 (AFP) - A French former diplomat is being investigated on suspicion of corruption in relation to the scandal-plagued UN oil-for-food programme for Iraq, judicial sources told AFP on Sunday.

PARIS, Sept 11 (AFP) - A French former diplomat is being investigated on suspicion of corruption in relation to the scandal-plagued UN oil-for-food programme for Iraq, judicial sources told AFP on Sunday.

Serge Boidevaix, who now works as a businessman, was placed under formal investigation on Thursday for "influence peddling and active corruption of a foreign agent," according to the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

An expert on the Middle East, Boidevaix is the former president of the French-Iraqi association for economic cooperation.

Boidevaix is being questioned as part of a French investigation into suspected secret kickbacks made between 1996 and 2001 to favour French companies including oil giant Total, notably in Iraq.

He is one of 11 French nationals suspected of having received massive oil allocations, totalling 32.6 million barrels, as kickbacks from the regime of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein between 1998 and 2002, the paper said.

UN documents made available to French investigating judge Philippe Courroye earlier this year cited French former interior minister Charles Pasqua as having benefited from Iraqi oil allocations under the oil-for-food plan.

One of Pasqua's aides, Bernard Guillet, is under investigation as part of the probe. He is suspected of having received commissions from a middleman who brokered the resale of Iraqi oil.

Pasqua himself, who served as interior minister from 1993 to 1995, currently enjoys immunity from prosecution as a member of the French senate.

Both Pasqua and Guillet have denied any wrongdoing.

The oil-for-food programme -- which ran from 1996 to 2003, when US-led forces invaded Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein -- allowed Baghdad to sell oil to raise money for humanitarian goods the country lacked due to sanctions.

An independent report into the 100-billion-dollar humanitarian program, released on Thursday, faulted UN Secretary General Annan for serious management lapses, and revealed evidence of corruption in the programme.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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