Pasqua claims innocence in UN corruption probe
PARIS, Oct 17 (AFP) - Charles Pasqua, a former French interior minister, asserted Monday that he was linked to a corruption probe into the UN oil-for-food programme with Iraq under false pretences and that he never received oil vouchers from Saddam Hussein.
“I never received oil vouchers. I’m completely outside of all that,” he told journalists.
“Someone used my name,” he said.
Pasqua has been cited as one of a number of officials and businessmen in France and elsewhere suspected of having been given oil vouchers by the deposed Iraqi government during the oil-for-food programme.
The programme, which ran from 1996 to 2003, aimed to allow sanction-hit Iraq to sell a limited amount of oil to buy food and medicine for its population, but ended up being corrupted by Baghdad, which allegedly gave the vouchers to foreign personalities it deemed to be well-disposed to its regime.
Two former high-ranking French diplomats — including the representative to the United Nations between 1991 and 1995 — have been placed under criminal investigation by a French judge looking into the matter.
Both are accused of “influence-peddling” and “active corruption of foreign officials.”
Four other individuals are also under investigation. They are a businessman, an advisor to Pasqua, the head of an Iraqi-French friendship association, and a Palestinian journalist.
Pasqua, who officials close to the case said was linked to the probe, issued what he said was a “detailed memorandum refuting the allegations” against him.
He showed a letter addressed to him from Paul Volcker, the head of the UN independent commission of inquiry into the corruption, which essentially said no conclusion implicating Pasqua had been made.
He ventured that his name had maybe appeared in the case because “the Iraqi government wanted to its sympathy, its gratitude to me. Why? There is no reason, because I have participated in any action favourable to the Iraqi government.”
Subject: French news