US report details how Saddam sprayedFrench politicians with oil dollars

7th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

WASHINGTON, Oct 7 (AFP) - The Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein issued millions of dollars in lucrative oil export vouchers to leading French, Russian and other foreign politicians as part of a concerted effort to win their assistance in lifting UN sanctions against Iraq, according to a CIA report made public here.

WASHINGTON, Oct 7 (AFP) - The Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein issued millions of dollars in lucrative oil export vouchers to leading French, Russian and other foreign politicians as part of a concerted effort to win their assistance in lifting UN sanctions against Iraq, according to a CIA report made public here.   

While the Iraqi intelligence service tried to bribe many foreign nationals, it paid particular attention to influential personalities in France and Russia because the two countries hold permanent seats on the UN Security Council, said the paper prepared by chief US weapons inspector Charles Duelfer, who has perused tonnes of secret Iraqi documents seized in the wake of the US-led invasion of the country.   

"Iraq sought out individuals whom they believed were in a position to influence French policy," Duelfer concluded.   

The French targets, according to the Central Intelligence Agency, included government ministers, politicians, journalists and business people.  

Among the recipients named in the Iraqi documents is former French interior minister Charles Pasqua, who received export vouchers for almost 11 million barrels of crude that could be easily converted into cash, said the CIA report made public Wednesday.  

The Saddam Hussein government also tried to find a way to influence President Jacques Chirac by making payments to businessman Patrick Maugein, who the Iraqis believed had access to the French leader.   

As a result, Maugein's Dutch-registered company was given vouchers for 13 million barrels of oil, according to the report.  

The founder of the French-Iraqi Export Club, Michel Grimard, received 5.5 million barrels through Swiss companies and the Iraqi-French Friendship Society, which, in turn, got vouchers for 10 million barrels of oil.  

French oil companies Total and SOCAP were awarded over 105 million and 93 million barrels respectively, the report said.   

The transactions were executed under the UN-run USD 60 billion oil-for-food programme that was launched in 1996 in order to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people under a UN oil embargo imposed in the wake of Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.   

The programme allowed limited supervised sales of Iraqi oil under the condition that the proceeds would be used to buy food and medicine for impoverished Iraqis.   

The payoffs were personally supervised by Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, who is currently in US custody in Baghdad.   

According to the report, Aziz told his interrogators that "both parties understood that resale of the oil was to be reciprocated through efforts to lift UN sanctions, or through opposition to American initiatives within the Security Council."   

In all, as of June 2000, Iraq awarded France USD 1.78 billion worth of short-term oil contracts, equalling approximately 15 percent of all the contracts allocated under the oil-for-food programme, the CIA pointed out.   

However, courtship of French individuals and organizations by Iraqis went back to a period preceding the first Gulf War, Duelfer points out.  

In 1988, Iraq paid USD 1 million to the French Socialist Party, with the Iraqi ambassador to France handing over the money directly to then-Defence Minister Pierre Joxe, according to the report, which cites Iraqi intelligence documents.   

The Iraqi documents are quoted as saying that the ambassador, Abd-al-Razzaq Al Hashimi, was instructed to remind Joxe "about Iraq's previous positions toward France, in general, and the French Socialist Party, in particular."   

A similar strategy was pursued by the regime in Russia.   

Lucrative oil contracts were granted there to nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the Russian Communist Party, which at the time controlled the largest faction in parliament, and the foreign ministry.   

Baghdad also showered with money the well-connected Russian oil and gas oligarchy, including Gazprom, Lukoil, Yukos and other companies, the report said.   

Other recipients mentioned in the report include Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Benon Sevan, the former chief administrator of the oil-for-food programme, now under investigation by the United Nations and the US Congress.  

The revelations prompted Henry Hyde, the chairman of the House International Relations Committee, to demand immediate access to UN internal audits.   

He insisted the access was "imperative if the world body is to escape further damage to its credibility as a result of this grossly mismanaged programme." 

© AFP

 

Subject: French News

 

 

 

 

 

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