Misdemeanors But No Felonies in UN Oil-for-Food Audit

  1. a series of 58 internal audits of the multi-billion-dollar oil-for-food programme in iraq has revealed overbilling and management lapses by its u.n. supervisors, but no large-scale fraud.

    the united nations, which pr
    ovided food and relief supplies to 27 million sanctions-hit iraqis during 1996-2003, was charged with overseeing some 65 billion dollars in oil revenues to finance goods and services.

    but preliminary u.n. audit reports made public by the independent inquiry committee, created by the u.n. security council last year, show management failings resulting in losses amounting to about two million dollars -- mostly due to overbilling.

    "the scale is the key," says jim paul, executive director of the new york-based global policy forum, which closely monitors the united nations.

    "when you have a 65-billion-dollar programme and manage to find two million dollars missing, you don't have a big story," he told ips.

    paul said that newspaper editors who play up the story are "complicit" in an ongoing virulent campaign by u.s. right-wing neo-conservatives to undermine the world body.

    the lapses pointed out in the audit reports include failure to supervise contractors, overcharging by companies hired to monitor oil sales, lack of direction and coordination, and ad hoc management practices and procedures.

    u.n. spokesman stephane dujarric told reporters monday that the united nations is already focused on issues of management and accountability.

    "we are engaged in a critical review of the way we work, which will lead to a broad overhaul of the u.n.'s management structure and systems in order to improve performance and accountability," he said.

    "and let's not forget that the oil-for-food programme did fulfill its main objective by providing humanitarian relief to 27 million iraqis and thereby helping to maintain political support for u.n. sanctions which, in turn, prevented (iraqi president) saddam hussein's regime from acquiring weapons of mass destruction," dujarric said.

    u.n. secretary-general kofi annan, who described the u.s.-led war on iraq as "illegal" in a television interview last year, has come under heavy fire from right-wing groups in the united states.

    these groups have also accused the world body of facilitating the saddam hussein regime to siphon off some 10 billion to 20 billion dollars in illegal profits from the oil-for-food programme.

    but in an newspaper interview saturday, the head of the independent inquiry committee, paul volcker, a former head of the u.s. federal reserve bank, said those figures were "grossly exaggerated". he said his own investigations show only about 1.7 billion dollars in illegal profits.

    volcker also said he did not see any "flaming red flags" in the audit reports.

    paul said that "people in washington have continued to exaggerate the figures for political reasons." he said the figures were getting bigger and bigger every day. "they were being repeated until they came to be accepted as truth."

    he referred to a monumental scandal the united states has chosen to ignore involving the development fund for iraq, which was under the u.s.-administered coalition provisional authority (cpa) set up after the invasion of iraq in march 2003.

    paul said the united nations transferred about 8 billion dollars in iraqi oil revenues to that fund. the fund also accumulated another 10 billion dollars of oil revenues when the cpa administered iraq.

    "a number of countries in the security council described the fund as a 'black hole' because it was totally non-transparent," he added. there were even stories of how some of the monies ended in swiss banks, he said.

    "so the people who are so troubled by the misuse of funds by the united nations have not taken the trouble to look at the u.s.-administered development fund for iraq," paul said.

    he said the oil-for-food programme has been turned into scandal as part of a right-wing conspiracy. "what is also sinister about it is that it is also being used as lever to change personnel at the highest levels of the united nations," he added.

    http://ipsnews.net/print.asp?idnews=26978

    just thought i would post the other side of the coin


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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   Mkue
    "These audits do not answer even a fraction of the questions we have been asking or will be continuing to ask as our investigation moves ahead," said Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee's investigations subcommittee, one of several panels looking at the program.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/...in658631.shtml

    According to this statement from the Chairman of the committee (one of several panels looking at the program) the audits do not answer even a fraction of the questions so I would imagine that we will be hearing more about this scandal in the future.
  4. by   BeachNurse
    Quote from Tigerlily
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/...in658631.shtml

    According to this statement from the Chairman of the committee (one of several panels looking at the program) the audits do not answer even a fraction of the questions so I would imagine that we will be hearing more about this scandal in the future.
    It ain't over till the fat (or malnourished??!) lady sings. I know there's more to it.
  5. by   Fluesy
    There is a difference between allegation and fact. WMD's in Iraq were an allegation - just last week there was an anouncement that the hunt had been called off and that there probably had not been any WMD's since GW1. Spinning allegations about things that aren't there seems to be a favored tactic of ol' Dubya.
  6. by   Fluesy
    thanks to spacenurse - i just found this gem

    since word of the united nations' oil-for-food scandal first broke, conservative media figures have been quick to conclude that european nations and political figures that opposed the u.s.-led invasion of iraq did so because they were bribed by deposed iraqi dictator saddam hussein. although there is evidence that some political figures from european countries may have been complicit in the scandal, conservatives who have pushed the scandal as the key explanation for european opposition to the war have made assertions unsupported by, and often at odds with, the facts. while some conservatives have specifically accused european leaders of failing to support the war in iraq because of their alleged interest in the scandal, to date no credible body has directly accused any of wrongdoing.

    conservative misinformation on european leaders' links to the oil-for-food scandal is nothing new. for example, on the july 29 edition of fox news' the o'reilly factor, fox news political analyst dick morris asserted that "it's been proven that [french president] jacques chirac and [russian president] vladimir putin got personal bribes from the oil-for-food program. what could you have done as president to persuade them to dump saddam hussein, their benefactor?"

    http://mediamatters.org/items/printable/200412080005

    :spin::spin:spin::spin::spin::spin:
  7. by   Mkue
    Quote from Fluesy
    There is a difference between allegation and fact. WMD's in Iraq were an allegation - just last week there was an anouncement that the hunt had been called off and that there probably had not been any WMD's since GW1. Spinning allegations about things that aren't there seems to be a favored tactic of ol' Dubya.
    So we should wait until the final report comes out, hopefully questions will be answered. It appears that some journalists are already trying to clear UN member countries before the final report is out.

    The US panel set up to investigate the scandal is made up of Repubs and Dems so it's not just conservatives who are investigating the scandal the writer of your article is putting a spin on that trying to mislead us to believe it's a conservative thing.

    Try as we might, this is one huge scandal we can't blame on the good ole US of A unless Americans were controlling the United Nations accounting books from 1996-2003, which I doubt very much.
  8. by   Fluesy
    Quote from tigerlily
    so we should wait until the final report comes out, hopefully questions will be answered. it appears that some journalists are already trying to clear un member countries before the final report is out.

    the us panel set up to investigate the scandal is made up of repubs and dems so it's not just conservatives who are investigating the scandal the writer of your article is putting a spin on that trying to mislead us to believe it's a conservative thing.

    try as we might, this is one huge scandal we can't blame on the good ole us of a unless americans were controlling the united nations accounting books from 1996-2003, which i doubt very much.
    i like looking at the flip side and the flip side of your second sentence would read

    "it appears that some journalists are already trying to schmeer un member countries before the final report is out."

    which came first the allegation or the rebuttal??? it seems that it is fine to lay an allegation but as soon as it is rebutted then it becomes "spin" and pre-emptive.

    what is good for the goose should be fine for the gander.

    as for the us of a controlling the accounting books well as the original article said

    he referred to a monumental scandal the united states has chosen to ignore involving the development fund for iraq, which was under the u.s.-administered coalition provisional authority (cpa) set up after the invasion of iraq in march 2003.

    paul said the united nations transferred about 8 billion dollars in iraqi oil revenues to that fund. the fund also accumulated another 10 billion dollars of oil revenues when the cpa administered iraq.


    http://ipsnews.net/print.asp?idnews=26978
  9. by   Mkue
    I have a very large interest in the Oil-for-Food scandal at this time.. all other scandals are taking a "back seat" My main concern about the Oil-for-Food scandal is IF UN member countries chose not to overthrow Saddam partly b/c they were receiving huge kickbacks.. we are talking "billions" of dollars here.. while the Iraqi ppl suffered immensely. The scandal ended in 2003 when Saddam was overthrown and not until then.
  10. by   BeachNurse
    Quote from Tigerlily
    I have a very large interest in the Oil-for-Food scandal at this time.. all other scandals are taking a "back seat" My main concern about the Oil-for-Food scandal is IF UN member countries chose not to overthrow Saddam partly b/c they were receiving huge kickbacks.. we are talking "billions" of dollars here.. while the Iraqi ppl suffered immensely. The scandal ended in 2003 when Saddam was overthrown and not until then.
    Exactly...I am sure this fact will become apparent no matter what the media wants.
  11. by   Fluesy
    Quote from Tigerlily
    I have a very large interest in the Oil-for-Food scandal at this time.. all other scandals are taking a "back seat" My main concern about the Oil-for-Food scandal is IF UN member countries chose not to overthrow Saddam partly b/c they were receiving huge kickbacks.. we are talking "billions" of dollars here.. while the Iraqi ppl suffered immensely. The scandal ended in 2003 when Saddam was overthrown and not until then.
    Why the interest in these allegations and insinuations??? What do you want to come of this??? Do you want to see the UN disbanded? Or do you just want a justification for invading Iraq??
  12. by   URO-RN
    Quote from tigerlily
    so we should wait until the final report comes out, hopefully questions will be answered. it appears that some journalists are already trying to clear un member countries before the final report is out.

    the us panel set up to investigate the scandal is made up of repubs and dems so it's not just conservatives who are investigating the scandal the writer of your article is putting a spin on that trying to mislead us to believe it's a conservative thing.

    try as we might, this is one huge scandal we can't blame on the good ole us of a unless americans were controlling the united nations accounting books from 1996-2003, which i doubt very much.
    exactly. 'nuff said.
  13. by   Mkue
    Quote from Fluesy
    Why the interest in these allegations and insinuations??? What do you want to come of this??? Do you want to see the UN disbanded? Or do you just want a justification for invading Iraq??
    Millions of Iraqi's suffered during this scandal from 1996-2003. Many countries had a lot to gain by not overthrowing Saddam and letting the inspections continue.. To me overthrowing Saddam and his murderous regime was justified and long overdue.

    The UN has lost a lot of credibility in my eyes but I'm willing to sit back and hope for a new and improved honest United Nations in the future.
  14. by   Fluesy
    So it is the justification for invading Iraq - excuse number - what are we up to now??? Let me see
    1) WMD's - weren't there
    2) Link between Bin Laden and Saddam - not there
    3) Terrorist training camps - not there
    4) Overjoyed Iraqi people throwing flowers of welcome to American troops - briefly there
    5) The flypaper strategy - we will fight them over there
    6) Now the oil for food scandal - with this track record I think I will cease to be worried that anything will be found.
    Last edit by Fluesy on Jan 17, '05

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