Kurdish Aide:Iraq Has Names In Oil For Food Payments
DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
May 1, 2004 6:55 a.m.
UNITED NATIONS (AP)--The Iraqi Governing Council has lists naming people who
allegedly received payments from the U.N. oil-for-food program while Saddam
Hussein was in power, Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani said.
The governing council hasn't decided yet whether to publish the names, he said
Asked whether any U.N. officials were on the list, Talabani said, "perhaps, but
I cannot say" until the council makes a decision.
Allegations of corruption in the oil-for-food program surfaced last January in
the Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada and have intensified in recent months, calling into
question the U.N.'s credibility and causing what Secretary-General Kofi Annan
has called "a very serious" crisis.
The newspaper had a list of about 270 former government officials, activists,
journalists and U.N. officials from more than 46 countries suspected of
profiting from Iraqi oil sales that were part of the U.N. program.
Talabani, a council member and the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan,
was asked Friday whether in addition to the list published in Al-Mada there was
now additional evidence that the council had uncovered about cash payment to
"We have lists of cash paid to journalists, personalities, groups and parties,"
It appeared to be the first confirmation by a Governing Council member of such a
Hawar Ziad, the Patriotic Union's representative at the U.N., said the Kurdish
party supports the independent investigation launched by Annan which is headed
by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.
"Our policy is to find out the truth and let the chips fall where they may," he
said, adding that the Kurds also plan to conduct an inquiry into the
oil-for-food operation in northern Iraq which they were involved in.
Talabani was asked whether the Governing Council was prepared to hand over
documents to Volcker's panel. "Yes. If it will be necessary, it's ready," he
The oil-for-food program, which began in December 1996 and ended in November,
was launched to help Iraqis cope with sanctions.
The General Accounting Office, the U.S. Congress' investigative arm, estimated
in March that Saddam's government pocketed $5.7 billion by smuggling oil to its
neighbors and $4.4 billion by extracting kickbacks on otherwise legitimate
During the seven-year program, Iraq exported $65 billion of oil and some $46
billion of that revenue went to the oil-for-food program.
Annan hit back at allegations of corruption in the program on Wednesday, saying
the world body had no control over Saddam Hussein's oil smuggling and was being
blamed unfairly. He also noted that all members of the U.N. Security Council
were on the committee overseeing the program, yet none had come forward and said
"we had a role."