October 29, 2005
Turtle Bay Blues
Paul Volcker certainly exposed a quagmire of malfeasance, corruption and what's apparently come to be accepted as "business as usual" at the U.N.
October 29, 2005 -- Paul Volcker's final report on his investigation of the United Nations' $64 billion Iraqi Oil-for-Food program is a stunning indictment of, well, the entire United Nations. Yes, Saddam Hussein himself pocketed $1.8 billion through kickbacks alone from a program that was meant to feed his nation's starving people — endangered by the economic sanctions he himself had provoked by his violations of the 1991 Gulf War ceasefire accords.
Yes, fully half of the 4,500 companies involved in the program — many of them recognizable corporate names — kicked back funds to Saddam's regime in order to land lucrative oil contracts.
And, yes, political figures from around the world — especially from Russia and France — landed contracts in direct proportion to their willingness to oppose continued sanctions against Iraq.
George Galloway, the malignant British parliament member who was Saddam's virtual mouthpiece in the run-up to the war, appears to have pocketed $270,000, funneled through his (now estranged) Palestinian wife.
Fr. Jean-Marie Benjamin, a former top aide to the Vatican's secretary of state who had formed an anti-sanctions group, and France's former U.N. ambassador, Jean-Bertrand Merrimee, both got six-figure deals.
Some were simply profiteers — like Marc Rich, the fugitive financier who was spared a U.S. prison term for tax evasion thanks to a last-minute presidential pardon from Bill Clinton.
One wonders, however, why the former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve spared Kofi Annan.
As for Annan himself, we don't really know the full extent of his culpability, beyond his son Kojo's widely reported involvement in oil contracts.
Volcker, you see, has admitted taking care that his investigation not result in Annan's being toppled from his post.
"I felt uncomfortably," he said, of the point where he realized Annan might lose his job.
Well, we feel uncomfortably that Annan still has his job.
Posted by Seth at October 29, 2005 01:09 PM