Report: Saddam Hussein took $10 billion from UN oil program
US congressional investigators estimate that Saddam Hussein's regime received more than $10.1 billion in illegal revenues related to the United Nations (UN)' oil-for-food program from 1997 to 2002.
According to a preliminary report by the US General Accounting Office (GAO), the former Iraqi government received $5.7 billion from oil illegally smuggled out of Iraq and $4.4 billion in illicit surcharges on oil sales and commissions from suppliers, reported a press release.
An earlier estimate by the GAO covering oil-for-food program activities through 2001 found that Saddam Hussein's regime had taken $6.6 billion in illegal revenues from the UN program. The new estimate includes 2002 data from oil revenues and contracts and newer estimates of illicit commissions from commodity suppliers, GAO said.
Under the oil-for-food program, the Iraqi government was permitted to sell oil only if the money was used to buy humanitarian goods and pay victims of the 1991 Gulf War. Other oil sales were prohibited under the UN embargo imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The oil-for-food program expired in November 2003.
The GAO report warned that the US-led campaign to find and repatriate Iraqi assets faces challenges, including the planned transfer of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government in June.
"It is uncertain whether the new government will allow the United States to continue its hunt for the former regime's assets," the report said. Overall, the United States has had "varying results" in its campaign to identify, freeze and repatriate Iraqi assets, GAO said. "While the amount of hidden assets accumulated by the former Iraqi regime is unknown, estimates range from $10 [billion] to $40 billion in illicit earnings." — (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)