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February 04, 2005
UN: It's a start - just don't let it be a whitewash
Filed in: Current Affairs, Politics, UN Oil For Food - Oil For Fraud, War on Terror

Just when the heat is being turned up on him, Paul Volcker issued an interim report (file link from Fox News) on the UN OFF (Oil For Food/Oil For Fraud) program.

What are we to make of this 246 page document? What is it about and what has been accomplished by the investigation so far?

One way to get a snapshot is to search for salient terms that are of interest to those of us following this fiasco.

Let's take a look:

Saddam Hussein: 19 mentions (there are other Hussein's in the document that are not him.) While there is acknowledgment that he had some involvement in selecting who he would do oil business with, there is little examination of all his activities. So this really isn't a Saddam report.

Kofi Annan: 9 mentions - most of these references are to correspondence or statements referred to him. Two of these mentions are about the issue with his son Kojo - whose part in this is still 'under investigation'. So there is no investigation of Kofi at all.

Kojo Annan: 3 mentions - These are all references to his past employ with Cotecna and any reporting on any findings will have to wait until some future report. There is no mention of his involvement with Air Harbour Technologies or the family of Sheik Yamani.

France, French: 58 mentions. This is pretty significant - until you look at the report and see that almost all of these references are concerning how the BNP Parabas bank was selected to conduct the banking transactions between (Saddam) Iraq and its customers. Most of this is muddied in the report by it defending the choice of BNP over other French banks and Swiss banks. Though there is evidence that Iraq exerted pressure to have a French bank friendly to its cause - the report seeks to muddy that with conflicting discussion. There is no mention of French government officials and business officials and their treacherous involvement with Saddam Hussein or (Saddam) Iraq's influence on France in the Security Council. Not one word.

German, Germany: 4 mentions. I found one more listing (on page 76) in a graphic table for Deutche Bank being in Germany so it is possible that there are more. The only purpose of citing Germany in the report is about bank selection. There is no mention of the relationship between German government officials or business people and their treacherous involvement with Saddam Hussein or the influence that Saddam Iraq had on Germany in the Security Council. Not one word.

Russia: 0. Nothing about dual use or military equipment deals with Iraq in relationship to the Oil For Food Program.

China: 0. Nothing about dual use - Iraq's entire military communication system, for example - or military equipment deals with Iraq in relationship to the Oil For Food Program.

ESD: 112 mentions. This acronym is for the United Nations administrative account (ESD) to which the 2.2% of the OFF oil proceeds were placed. The report investigates this account thoroughly but notes that it wasn't audited. They don't think anything happened - but they don't really know since it wasn't audited. It is interesting to read.

IAD, OIOS: 366 mentions. These acronyms are for the internal auditing (IAD = Internal Audit Division) and oversight services (OIOS = Office of Internal Oversight Services). The report significantly evaluates the performance of these internal UN departments and finds that their 'effectiveness was severely diminished', that 'management did not implement a significant portion of ... critical recommendations', 'did not fill its mandate', 'unable to adequately resolve disputes', 'poor coordination', 'reporting was unsatisfactory', etc. Generally they failed to keep up with what happened with the dollars and personnel they were supposed to keep track of - but I guess, most importantly, everyone got paid - paid very well thank you. No missed paychecks at the UN.

Benon Sevan OIP AMEP: A whopping 889 mentions. We know that the internal functions of the UN were broken. This report makes it clear that the UN head of the OFF program - Executive Director of the United Nations Office of the Iraq Program (OIP), Benon Savan, used his office and a front company called AMEP to enrich himself utilizing oil contracts, enriched some others, and curried favor with Saddam's Iraq.

While what Savan did is certainly inexcusable and deserves harsh retribution, it appears that the bulk of the focus of this report is Benon Savan and I certainly hope it isn't just a witch hunt to mollify the world public. Benon Savan is just a marker for a much wider corruption, a kleptocracy entrenched at the UN and with countries and companies that are neck deep in these scandals.

I applaud chairman Volcker for reporting in detail what he has, but this falls far short of the most important things that need to be investigated. The UN OFF program remains the single most important international collusion and treachery in history and it must be fully exposed.

And who is going to investigate Mr. Volcker? And Mr. Volcker's friends? We know that a selection process occurred to select BNP as the transaction bank for OFF? What did they do to assist Saddam's Iraq in the process? Will their friend Mr. Volcker explain that in an upcoming report? Do we just leave that to Fox News?

Please see my complete history on the UN OFF program here, for background and additional links.

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