British firm's Saddam bribery profits go to Iraq good causes

13th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Profits confiscated from British engineering firm Weir for paying illegal kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime are to be ploughed into Iraqi good causes, the Scottish government announced Sunday.

Some 1.4 million pounds ($2.25 million, 1.65 million euros) of the 13.9 million pounds of forfeited profits will support water development and other humanitarian causes.

The Glasgow-based firm, which makes pumps and valves for the oil and gas industry, handed over the money at the High Court in Edinburgh last December for breaching United Nations sanctions imposed on Iraq before the 2003 invasion.

Weir were also fined three million pounds.

Of the money heading to Iraqi good causes, one million pounds will go to Scottish aid groups to work with Iraqi partners.

Some 300,000 pounds will go towards water development, while the Iraqi Youth Orchestra will be given 100,000 pounds to tour the Edinburgh Festival.

"A top priority is support for water projects in Iraq," said Scotland's External Affairs Minister Fiona Hyslop.

"We are working with the UN to develop proposals that will tackle water development based on the needs identified in the country.

"Scotland has always been a responsible nation and our distinctive approach to international development has made a difference to some of the most vulnerable people in the world."

Mark Chadwick, of the Edinburgh-based Mercy Corps, said: "It's particularly welcome at a time when the continuing humanitarian needs of Iraqis appear to be slipping off the international agenda.

"We know from our work on the ground that the people of Iraq still need a great deal of help and there's a lot yet to be done to improve their government's ability to deliver essential public services in an efficient and transparent way."

Some 100,000 pounds will be donated to the Linda Norgrove Foundation, for humanitarian work in Afghanistan. Scottish aid worker Norgrove was killed last year during a botched attempt to rescue her from Taliban kidnappers.

The rest of the money will be used to fund community projects in Scotland.

© 2011 AFP

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