Dutch firm admits kickbacks in UN programme

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Akzo Nobel NV has admitted to paying thousands of dollars in kickbacks to the Iraqi government during the UN-administered oil-for-food programme.

21 December 2007

WASHINGTON - The Dutch firm Akzo Nobel NV has admitted to paying thousands of dollars in kickbacks to the Iraqi government during the UN-administered programme that allowed Saddam Hussein's regime to sell oil to buy food or other humanitarian goods, the US Justice Department said Thursday.

Akso Nobel acknowledged two of its subsidiaries, NV Organon and Intervet International BV, paid Saddam's government USD 280,000 to help win contracts between 2000 and 2002, the department said. The companies would artificially inflate the value of the contract to conceal the payments from the United Nations.

Akso Nobel sold the two subsidiaries earlier this year.

Under the agreement with the Justice Department, NV Organon must reach an agreement with Dutch authorities to pay EUR 381,000 in fines within 180 days or pay USD 800,000 to the US government.

The United Nations in New York oversaw the programme that was set up in 1995 and ended under the US invasion in 2003. The programme allowed Iraq to sell oil for food and medicine to ease the burden of international sanctions enacted after Saddam ordered the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The oil for food programme was later found to be the subject of widespread corruption and abuse that involved payments to the Iraqi government and in some cases to UN officials.

[Copyright dpa 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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