Sonic Puke
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7/07/2004

Oil for food scandal will take 6-8 months for answers...

A Road Map for Our Inquiry
How we'll get to the bottom of the U.N. Oil for Food scandal.

BY PAUL A. VOLCKER
Wednesday, July 7, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

The multibillion-dollar Oil-for-Food Program of the United Nations, in operation from 1996 to 2003, was designed to provide humanitarian assistance to an Iraqi population suffering grievously under the regime of Saddam Hussein. The central idea was to permit exports of Iraqi oil only so long as the financial proceeds were used for the purchase of food, medical supplies and, after a time, other essential imports for the Iraqi people.

Grave charges have been made that, whatever the humanitarian purposes, billions of dollars were lost in the process, $4 billion to $5 billion by a preliminary estimate of the U.S. General Accounting Office. Critics have cited evidence of failures of effective oversight by the U.N. and its agencies. Examples have been published of underpayments for oil sales, overcharging for poor quality food and medicine, and imports of nonessential goods. A systematic pattern of kickbacks and bribery is alleged to the benefit of Saddam, his friends and others, extending even to charges of corruption by at least one senior U.N. official.

...As a matter of priority, we seek to answer conclusively the allegations of corruption within the U.N. professional staff. We aim to provide, hopefully in six to eight months, the truly definitive report on the administration of the Oil-for-Food Program...


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