Author Topic: The Oil-for-Fraud Scandal â “ the Canadian Connection  (Read 16069 times)

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Offline Aden_Gatling

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Re: The Oil-for-Fraud Scandal â “ the Canadian Connection
« Reply #25 on: April 01, 2005, 13:14:07 »
It is getting more interesting ...

Quote
Thu, March 31, 2005
UN scandal inquiry has Frechette questions
By GREG WESTON -- Sun Ottawa Bureau

An international commission probing the worst corruption scandal ever to rock the United Nations is training its sights on a former high-ranking Canadian government official.

The Volcker commission recently cited Louise Frechette, a former deputy minister in Jean Chretien's government, for helping to cover up damning internal UN audits of the organization's scandalous Oil-for-Food program.

Now she is back in the spotlight as the commission probes her role in the overall mismanagement of the $80-billion humanitarian scheme, a fiasco threatening to topple UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Frechette has been the UN's first-ever deputy secretary-general and Annan's chief administrator since 1998, making her one of the organization's most powerful mandarins during the worst years of the Oil-for-Food fiasco.

Investigators believe a staggering $8 billion was embezzled or otherwise disappeared from the humanitarian program between 1997 and 2003.

There is no evidence to date that Frechette was in any way connected to the massive wrongdoing that befell the UN program, nor how much she even knew about the widening problem of corruption.

But her key position atop the UN secretariat, and her involvement with internal auditors, have put her in the crosshairs of the Volcker inquiry.

The UN-administered program was intended to allow Saddam Hussein to export about $40 billion of embargoed Iraqi oil in return for a similar amount of desperately needed imports of food, medical supplies and other humanitarian aid for his country.

According to an interim report of the Volcker inquiry, released in February, UN auditors began smelling something amiss early in the program -- and ultimately produced a total of 55 audits of it.

But for almost four years, as the humanitarian scheme became riddled with kickbacks and mismanagement, the auditors were stifled by the program's now-disgraced director, Benon Sevan.

Finally in frustration, the chief spending watchdog announced in late 2000 that future audits would be sent over Sevan's head, directly to the UN Security Council.

This time, it was Frechette who intervened. The Volcker inquiry reports that Frechette personally telephoned the head of audits, "denying this proposal."

"(The auditor) then abandoned the effort to report directly to the Security Council on (oil-for-food) related matters."

The UN audits remained under wraps for another four years until the Volcker inquiry began making them public only weeks ago. (Frechette said recently she believed the audits "were a management tool to be used only by internal managers.")

Frechette was Canada's deputy minister of defence in 1997 when Jean Chretien's government shut down the Somalia inquiry. She is also no stranger to the man heading the Volcker team of 75 investigators and forensic accountants.

Reid Morden is the former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

He was also Frechette's boss in 1993, when she was a diplomat and he was deputy minister of Foreign Affairs.

In a wide-ranging interview with me yesterday, Morden said the inquiry has so far tried to follow the money from the sale of Iraqi oil and purchase of humanitarian aid.

"What we will do now is try to give an overall picture of the management, mismanagement and possible corruption within the program overall," Morden said.

"And in that, we will be following up with Louise Frechette on whatever her role might have been or was not. "What we'll try to focus on is ... was the management structure appropriate and sufficient for a program of that size and complexity? And I think it is more on that side that we will be taking a look at her role."

Stay tuned.
http://www.canoe.ca/NewsStand/Columnists/Ottawa/Greg_Weston/2005/03/31/977488.html
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Offline 54/102 CEF

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Re: The Oil-for-Fraud Scandal â “ the Canadian Connection
« Reply #26 on: April 01, 2005, 14:20:00 »
Try a google search on these key words

oil demarais diane francis

Dianer Francis - formerly (still?) with the National Post has done a lot of work on the links to Paris - Gene Cretin - Paul Desmarais and oil

Makes for a real who dun it.

You can visit me when I retire to the Island of Sayonara - but if the tide goes out - you go too - OK?

Offline Aden_Gatling

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Re: The Oil-for-Fraud Scandal â “ the Canadian Connection
« Reply #27 on: April 03, 2005, 19:14:44 »
Another Editorial (Rex Murphy) on Oil-for-Food:

Quote
[Saddam Hussein] took ... billions ... to set up a vast network of bribes and influence-buying operations, involving politicians, journalists, diplomats, and business people in dozens of countries. Saddam was using proceeds of the oil-for-food program either to aggrandize himself or to purchase one gigantic lobby effort on the international stage to rid himself of the sanctions program altogether. [ed. - or did he have other reasons, too ... hmm]

[...]

This was worse far than the most egregious scandals of recent days. The excesses and graft of Enron and Worldcom cannot claim as excuse that they occurred in an environment of abundance. But not even the rapacious capitalists of Enron or Worldcom built their Aspen retreats or fattened their grotesquely tumid bank accounts from money intended for children's medicine.

How the United Nations survives its vast hypocrisies is at one with other mysteries: how it survives its ineffectuality (the killings in Darfur continue apace), the sexual scandals of some of its peacekeeping operations, and its sheer chilling incompetence.

It is supposed to be the conscience of the world. Nations defer to its judgments. Canada based its non-participation in the Iraq war on the deliberations of the UN.

Why our country farmed out a moral decision of that magnitude to this inept, useless and corrupt institution is a perplexity that will never be unravelled.
There's talk of reforming the UN. The only reform, after oil-for-food, may be to shut it down.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20050402/COREX02/TPNational/Columnists
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Offline Thucydides

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Re: The Oil-for-Fraud Scandal â “ the Canadian Connection
« Reply #28 on: April 03, 2005, 22:31:50 »
Long story but with lots of details:

http://www.canadafreepress.com/2005/cover030505.htm

Quote
How Montreal's Power Corp. found itself caught up in the biggest fiasco in UN history

by Kevin Steel, The Western Standard

Saturday, March 5, 2005

Most Canadian companies look forward to the day they earn themselves a mention on the prime-time news. They hire PR firms and spend thousands to harass news

editors with press releases to tout their latest acquisition, invention or foreign venture in hopes of convincing someone to give them even a passing mention on the national newsâ “never mind the nearly unimaginable publicity of being plugged on a U.S. newscast.

But when Montreal-based Power Corporation of Canada found itself, in late January, the topic of a news story on America's top-rated Fox News Channel, which draws millions of U.S. and international viewers, executives there probably weren't thrilled. Unlike most publicly traded firms looking to build their brand on Wall Street, Power Corp. is, at the best of times, a quiet, often obscured company (in the past year it's issued a total of five news releases). That might seem strange, given the massive size and, well, power wielded by the holding company. Power controls some of Canada's biggest blue-chip companies, including the Investors Group, the country's largest mutual fund dealer, and investment firm Mackenzie Financial. It owns insurers Great-West Lifeco, Canada Life and London Life. Power owns several Quebec newspapers, including La Presse. It also holds substantial positions in Chinese airlines and telecom firms and has large stakes in the world's leading entertainment company, Bertelsmann, as well as a big piece of one of Europe's largest oil producers. In 2003, Power Corp. reported annual revenues of $16 billion.

But the Fox News story wasn't prompted by an announcement from Power of some billion-dollar takeover or the appointment of a new senior executive. It was something altogether different: the revelation that the man handpicked by the UN secretary general last April to probe the UN's scandalized Oil-for-Food program, Paul Volcker, had not disclosed to the UN that he was a paid adviser to Power Corp., a story which had originally been broken by a small, independent Toronto newspaper, the Canada Free Press. Why did the highest-rated cable channel in the U.S. care? Because the more that Americans came to know about Oil-for-Food, which has been called the largest corruption scandal in history, the more the name of this little-known Montreal firm kept popping up. And the more links that seemed to emerge between Power Corp. and individuals or organizations involved in the Oil-for-Food scandal, the more Fox News and other news outlets sniffing around this story began to ask questions about who, exactly, this Power Corp. is. And, they wanted to know, what, if anything, did Power have to do with a scandal in which companies around the world took bribes to help a murderous dictator scam billions of dollars in humanitarian aid out of the UN while his people suffered and starved?

Just a month before the Canada Free Press revealed that Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman, is a member of Power Corp.'s international advisory boardâ “and a close friend and personal adviser to Power's owner, Paul Desmarais Sr.â “a U.S. congressional investigation into the UN scandal discovered that Power Corp. had extensive connections to BNP Paribas, a French bank that had been handpicked by the UN in 1996 to broker the Oil-for-Food program. In fact, Power actually once owned a stake in Paribas through its subsidiary, Pargesa Holding SA. The bank also purchased a stake in Power Corp. in the mid-seventies and, as recently as 2003, BNP Paribas had a 14.7 per cent equity and 21.3 per cent voting stake in Pargesa, company records show. John Rae, a director and former executive at Power (brother of former Ontario premier Bob Rae), was president and a director of the Paribas Bank of Canada until 2000. And Power Corp. director Michel François-Poncet, who was, in 2001, the vice-chairman of Pargesa, also sat on Paribas's board, though he died Feb. 10, at the age of 70. A former chair of Paribas's management board, André Levy-Lang, is currently a member of Power's international advisory council. And Amaury-Daniel de Seze, a member of BNP Paribas's executive council, also sat on Pargesa's administrative council in 2002.

In September, the U.S. Congressâ “conducting one of seven U.S. government investigations into Oil-for-Food, in addition to the UN probeâ “subpoenaed crates of documents from the bank, which earned $700 million for its work, ostensibly to investigate the companies that had been doing business through Paribas that may have ripped off Oil-for-Food. But Capitol Hill insiders say that Paribas itself is of interest to congressional investigators, in particular whether Paribas violated "know your client"â ”style banking regulations, which require banks to be vigilant in watching for money laundering and other criminal activities being conducted through their bank. In February, Congress subpoenaed more documents from the bank, looking for very specific information. "The international program was managed through the escrow accounts of BNP maintained in New York and we have pretty strict banking laws, pretty strict disclosure laws and have gotten even more so with the passage of the Patriot Act," says one aide to a senior Republican working for the House International Relations Committee, one of the bodies investigating the Oil-for-Food program. "There are some doubts as to the veracity of BNP's compliance with the more stringent rules that are contained in the Patriot Act that were law by the end of '01."

The reason investigators are interested in Power's possible links to the bank that acted as a clearing house for Oil-for-Food is because the firm also appears to have had a stake in an oil firm that had been working out lucrative contracts with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Subsidiary Pargesa owns the largest single stake in Total Group Inc. (a Belgian-French petroleum multi-national corporation formed from the merger of Total, Petrofina and Elf Aquitaine), which reportedly had been negotiating, prior to the U.S. invasion in March 2003, rich contracts with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to develop and exploit the Majnoon and Nahr Umar oil fields in southern Iraq. Those regions are estimated to contain roughly a quarter of Iraq's reserves. The contracts were on the verge of being signed in 1997, one year after the beginning of the UN's Oil-for-Food program replaced U.S. sanctions on Iraq, when the French government intervened and stopped the deal. Paul Desmarais Jr., now chairman of Power Corp. (Paul Sr. retired in 1996, but is said to be active in the firm), sits on the board of Total, and Power director, François-Poncet, also sat on the board of Total's predecessor firm, Totalfina Elf. Paribas also owned shares in Total as recently as 2000, records show.

end of part one

Although nothing is (as yet) proven, it is interesting how many connections there seem to be between Power Corp and the various actors and principles in the Oil for Food scandal....
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: The Oil-for-Fraud Scandal â “ the Canadian Connection
« Reply #29 on: April 03, 2005, 22:34:48 »
Part two

http://www.canadafreepress.com/2005/cover030505.htm

Quote
Add up the facts that Power Corp. appears to be connected to an oil company that would benefit extensively if Saddam remained in power, with the bank appointed by the UN to help broker an Oil-for-Food program that appears to have been directly enriching Saddam, and which is being investigated for irregularities that may have abetted the wholesale corruption that eventually engulfed Oil-for-Food, and that Power's owners have a professional and personal relationship with the man hired by the UN to investigate the corruption, and it's no wonder that more and more questions are being asked about the firm.

The United Nations has refused to co-operate with the U.S. Congress investigations into the US$67-billion Oil-for-Food program and Security Council members Russia and France have refused to give Volcker the right to subpoena witnesses in the internal UN probe. But the way the scam appears to have worked is that Saddam was permitted to sell oil to customers he selected himself (he favoured French and Russian companies) at below-market prices, by allocating them oil vouchers. The customers could resell the oil at market prices and make a large profit, provided they kicked back a portion of the money to Saddam, who used the money for everything but badly needed food and medicine (the program came to be known by critics as Oil-for-Palaces). It is estimated that Saddam may have skimmed as much as US$2 billion from the aid program. And the fact that Iraqis were suffering while Saddam built up weapons and enriched his own personal wealth, obviously makes this scandal not only bigger, but more heinous than any run-of-the-mill Wall Street book-cooking. Companies implicated in what effectively amounts to crimes against humanity may never recover. And, to be clear, Power Corp. has not been linked in any direct way to the con. As for the fact that Power's name has come up several times in the investigation, Power's vice-president, general counsel and secretary Ted Johnson believes the news reports to be inaccurate and irresponsible. Says Johnson: "The stories coming out of the United States are a bunch of misinformation based on innuendo and half-truths."

There's a tale they used to tell on Parliament Hill about a president, a billionaire, an ambassador and a prime minister. The four of them got into an elevator one day at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, when Jim Blanchard, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, began ribbing the billionaire, Paul Desmarais's son André, about his recent marriage to France Chrétien, the daughter of then prime minister Jean Chrétien, as then U.S. president Bill Clinton listened in. "France certainly married well," Blanchard reportedly said to the prime minister. To which Chrétien replied, smugly: "André married well."

In reality, the wedding of France and André, in 1981, had only formalized the marriage between the Canadian government to the Desmaraises. While the family, worth an estimated US$4 billion and ranked the sixth richest in Canada, has always kept a fairly low profile, they have been in the news for decades--even if most Canadians never really noticed. The fact that the family happens to be friendly with the man who once ran the U.S. federal reserve won't surprise those who know them: the Desmaraises are as well connected politically as they are corporately. And it's arguable, based on the circumstantial evidence anyway, that nothing happens on Parliament Hill that isn't, in some way, a product of the Desmarais family's design. Prime Minister Paul Martin and former PMs Jean Chrétien, Brian Mulroney and Pierre Trudeau have all been close, personal friends of Paul Desmarais Sr. The story on Parliament Hill was that Trudeau's leadership bid was cooked up in Power headquarters in Victoria Square in Montreal. In the hiatus of his political career in the 1980s, Chrétien cooled his heels sitting on the board of a Power Corp. subsidiary, Consolidated Bathurst, and Power executive John Rae ran Chrétien's leadership campaigns in 1984 and 1990, as well as the 1993 election campaign that brought Chrétien to office. Martin got his start in the business world in the early sixties, working for then Power Corp. president Maurice Strong, and was made a millionaire, thanks to an undisclosed 1981 deal in which Desmarais sold him Canada Steamship Lines. Strong continues to act as one of Martin's senior advisors.

But the connections don't end there. Ted Johnson, the Power vice-president, is a former assistant to Trudeau. Paul Desmarais Sr. has long been a mentor of former prime minister Brian Mulroney. Don Mazankowski, a former Mulroney cabinet minister, sits on Power Corp.'s board. Bill Davis, former premier of Ontario, is on Power Corp.'s international advisory council. Daniel Johnson Jr., Quebec Liberal leader and briefly premier, worked for Power from 1973 to 1981. In fact, the political connections really don't stop at all. You could spend days trying to trace the connections that Paul Desmarais Sr. has not only with Canadian politicians, but in nearly every western capital in the world. Not bad for a guy from Sudbury, Ont., who started out fixing buses to save a nearly bankrupt transport company, inherited from his father. Desmarais's friends have joked that he "collects politicians."

And he has been doing it for a long time. Thirty years ago, in his 1976 book,

The Canadian Establishment, Peter C. Newman wrote, "It seemed to those who knew him best that Desmarais sometimes treated politicians with the deference due to sleepwalkers: men who must be led, but ever so gently, lest they wake up to the fact."

If there's one government in which Power has as much interest as it does in Canada, it's the UN. Maurice Strong, president of Power from 1964 to 1966â “who went on to run Ontario Hydro and Petro-Canadaâ “is not only a member of the Privy Council for Canada and a direct adviser to Paul Martin, he's also a senior adviser to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Appointed by Annan in 1997, after he took over the general secretariat, Strong's specific role was "to assist planning and executing a far-reaching reform of the world body." Since Annan's son, Kojo, has been implicated in the Oil-for-Food scandal, having accepted money from a Swiss firm, Cotecna, which was in charge of overseeing the shipments of food and medicine to Iraqis, Strong's presence at Annan's side provides yet more ammunition to those looking to link Power to this terrible tale of corruption and mismanagement (no direct links have been established). In fact, Strong had been an undersecretary general of the United Nations since 1985. He once told Toronto journalist Elaine Dewar that he liked working for the UN specifically because of its undemocratic nature. "He could raise his own money from whomever he liked, appoint anyone he wanted, control the agenda," wrote Dewar in her 1995 book, Cloak of Green. "He told me he had more unfettered power than a cabinet minister in Ottawa. He was right: no voters had put him in office, he didn't have to run for re-election, yet he could profoundly affect many lives."

How close Strong is with Power Corp. these days isn't clear. But what is clear is that certain UN policies have been a boost to the value of the conglomerate. For one thing, the UN-created Kyoto Protocolâ “which was spearheaded by none other than Strong himself, born of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, which he chairedâ “could have significant potential benefits for Power's holdings in China. Through their subsidiary, CITIC Pacific Ltd., the Desmaraises own power-generating facilities, automobile concerns and myriad other industrial interests throughout the Communist nation. The fact that Kyoto's framers deliberately created regulations that will hamstring exactly those sorts of businesses in the West by imposing limits on greenhouse gas production, but exempt China from those same limits, gives Power a competitive international advantage. Meanwhile, under the protocol, Chinese power plants will be able to sell clean air "credits," or allowances, to Western producers for cash. Some economists have predicted that Ottawa will buy credits as a way of meeting their Kyoto emissions targets.

And few companies stood to benefit from the UN's resistance to the invasion of Iraq to the same extent that Total might have, had Saddam made good on promised resource development deals with the oil giant. Since the early nineties, Total and Elf had been jointly negotiating with Hussein to develop the Majnoon oilfields north of Basra. In 2000, Total's president of Middle East exploration and production, had publicly suggested, on several occasions, that the Oil-for-Food sanctions were hurting Iraqi oil development. Shortly afterward, the two companies merged, with Power Corp. owning the biggest stake. According to Power's official history, "When . . . Totalfina proceeded to take over Elf Aquitaine, the Pargesa group emerged as the largest shareholder, with 3.4 per cent of the shares and three seats on the board of what was to become TotalFina Elf, the fourth largest integrated petroleum company in the world."

Last year, the New York Post interviewed prominent Wall Street figure Gerald Hillman, managing partner of Trireme Investments in New York, who had seen and analyzed the contract. He called the deal "highly unusual" and "very one-sided," as it permitted Total to keep 75 per cent of total production, whereas most deals with foreign partners top out at 50 per cent. It seems that the longer Saddam stayed in power, the better it was for the Total Group and its shareholders in Montreal.

The fact that sustaining Saddam directly could have potentially benefitted a family connected to so many Canadian mandarins and politiciansâ “and married into the family of the prime ministerâ “led some Canadians to raise questions about the motivations behind the Liberal party's decision to refuse to support the invasion of Iraq and Saddam's ouster. When Chrétien announced that decision in early 2003, Opposition foreign affairs critic Stockwell Day asked in the House of Commons, "I do not fault the prime minister's family ties with his nephew [Raymond Chrétien], our ambassador to France or with Paul Desmarais Sr., who is the largest individual shareholder of France's largest corporation, TotalFina Elf, which has billions of dollars of contracts with Saddam's former regime. With this valuable source of information and experience at his fingertips, has the prime minister ever discussed Iraq or France with his family or friends in the Desmarais empire?"

Chrétien responded by defending his nephew first and, with regard to Power, added: "I hope the attack against the people who have invested money in something, that he will repeat it outside and he will face the consequences." Power's general counsel, Johnson, told reporters at the time that TotalFina Elf "had no contracts in Iraq . . . Hasn't. Doesn't. Nothing with Saddam." Just a few months earlier, The New York Times reported that "The French oil giant TotalFina Elf has the largest position in Iraq, with exclusive negotiating rights to develop Majnoon, a field on the Iranian border with estimated reserves of 10 billion barrels, and Bin Umar, with an estimated production potential of 440,000 barrels a day, according to oil industry executives."John Thompson, president of the Mackenzie Institute, a Toronto-based security think-tank, says that Power Corp. directors were probably not thinking about foreign policy implications when they invested in TotalFina Elf. "They probably thoughtâ “and a lot of people thought like thisâ “there would eventually be a reopened Iraq, probably under Saddam but not necessarily, and they would like to be in position when it did," Thompson says. "Part of this whole thing was the Europeans bidding to have control of Iraqi oil and afraid that the Americans would be there instead. For the Americans, it was all about not having weapons of mass destruction coming out of the area, but for the Europeans it was all about oil."

Jason Kenney, a Conservative MP, says the questions being raised about Power's possible connection to Oil-for-Food are worth asking. But he's quick to point out that if the Liberals guided the country's foreign policy based on their connections to Power, then we should be asking questions about the Canadian government, too. "I am not the least bit critical of the Desmarais family for being rational actors in a free marketplace and pursuing their advantage," says Kenney. "I am, however, somewhat disquieted by the degree to which Power Corp.'s corporate interest seems to influence Canadian foreign policy. Obviously, every company seeks to influence government policyâ “regulatory, taxation or otherwiseâ “but Power Corp. seems to have a particularly unique influence over Canadian foreign policy."

That's something that hasn't been proven. But in addition to Power's connection to Total, there's the connection to Paribas, the bank selected to be in charge of the Oil-for-Food money. According to Power Corp.'s official history, produced in 2000, in 1981 it "made a $20-million investment in Pargesa Holding SA, a Swiss corporation that owned a major interest in Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas (Suisse). The Swiss bank had been a subsidiary of Compagnie Financière de Paris et des Pays-Bas, the French banking organization commonly known as Paribas, with which Power had enjoyed a close association for several years."

Nadhmi Auchi, who has been identified as a cousin of Saddam Hussein, was a significant shareholder in BNP Paribas at least until 2001. Auchi, who resides in London and owns a company called General Mediterranean Holdings, was ranked by London's Sunday Times in 2003 as England's thirty-fourth richest person, with some estimates putting his net worth at US$3 billion. In its 2001 annual report, General Mediterranean Holdings described itself as the largest single shareholder in BNP Paribas.

Auchi is a former member of Saddam's Baathist party. In 1959, he was tried, along with Saddam Hussein, in an attempted assassination plot. He eventually fled Iraq and publicly distanced himself from Saddam after the dictator murdered his two brothers. Time magazine reported in 2003 that Auchi maintained deep connections to Iraq and built much of his fortune selling them armaments. He has been fingered as a key figure in the Oil-for-Food scandal, with accusations that he acted as one of Saddam's brokers. He certainly is no stranger to shady deals: in 2003, Auchi was convicted in France of bribery charges, along with a raft of Elf oil executives, in a scandal dating back to 1990 involving the sale of a Spanish oil refinery.

Power also has indirect connections to Iraq through one of its directors, Laurent Dassault, managing director of Dassault Investissements, the parent company of Dassault Aviation, a French-based weapons and aeronautics manufacturer that sells, among other things, the Mirage jet. During Iraq's eight-year war with Iran in the eighties, Dassault Aviation was a major supplier of aircraft to the Hussein regime and it has been alleged that the firm continued illegal weapon sales to Iraq during the embargo period, using intermediaries and a complex system of money laundering set up by the Hussein regime.

Meanwhile, the UN had its own reasons for wanting to keep Oil-for-Food in business. For some strange reason, the aid program had been set up so that the UN would keep a portion of all oil sold through the programâ “compensation for the costs of overseeing the aid initiativeâ “three per cent of every barrel sold. Aid programs usually use money from contributing members to finance their administration. Recipients of previous UN aid programs had not been forced to pay the overhead of the programs. And since the fee paid to the UN was variable, the longer Oil-for-Food went on and the more oil that was sold through it, the more money the world body would earn.

That was not enough, however, for Benon Sevan, the man appointed by Annan to oversee the Oil-for-Food program. An interim report issued by Volcker in February found that Sevanâ “who has since retired from the UNâ “had personally requested that Iraq allocate some of its oil vouchers (with which companies could resell Iraqi oil at a lucrative profit) to a company with which he was affiliated. Documents uncovered by investigators indicate that Sevan may have directly been the beneficiary of oil allocations. Volcker told reporters that Sevan's conduct was "ethically improper" and that he had "created a grave and continuing conflict of interest."

Now, Volcker himself is the one facing allegations of conflict. In addition to his connections to Power Corp., which he did not disclose upon being appointed head of the UN probe, Volcker has also been linked to a pro-UN lobby group, the United Nations Association of the United States (which happens to receive generous support from BNP Paribas). Critics are suggesting that the final report, expected in June, could end up being a whitewash.

Oil-for-Food has certainly put the UN's credibility at stake in a way that no other incident has before. The world body has already demonstrated an inability to deal effectively with rogue dictators, such as Hussein and North Korea's Kim Jong Il, and has proven impotent to end genocides, like Rwanda in 1994 and Darfur today. But if the world discovers that the UN cannot even run a basic aid program, then there isn't much left for it to do. "The liberals are having a harder time asserting that what the conservatives want is to get the U.S. out of the UN," says the Republican aide. "They can say that, but it's not true. We need international mediating organizations like the UN. But you know what? We need them to work. And if they are not working, we are either going to make them work or we are going to find substitutes," he says. Increasingly, he reports, both Republicans and Democrats are open to finding alternatives to the UN for handling international affairs. "Maybe that model is NATO," says the aide. "If the UN is unreformable, then it will begin to shrink in its importance. Certainly in the United States it is already shrinking. That can be good or that can be bad. It is what it is. We do need these international mediating institutions and if the UN cannot step up to the plate and do it, then you are going to see a U.S. push in the next generation to get something else to do it," the aide says.

And certainly that has broad implications for Canada, whose government invested heavily in the UN when it stood by the world body's plan to keep Oil-for-Food in place, rather than stand by the U.S. in putting an end to a containment program that wasn't really containing Saddam at all. Whether Canada's foreign policyâ “given the government's connection to Powerâ “was "all about the oil," as some have theorized, however, may never be determined. Or, it likely won't be determined here: while there are six probes being conducted into the Oil-for-Food scandal in the U.S., and one through the UN, there is no investigation underway in this country into any involvement by Canadian companies. And, with few exceptions, the Canadian mainstream media seems to have largely ignored the story linking Volcker to Power Corp. The firm itself has issued no official statement on the accusations.

One press release did come across the wires on Jan. 27 with good news about Power Corp. Not from the normally quiet Power itself, mind you, but from KPMG, an accounting firm that works for Power (and, coincidentally, did audit work on the Oil-for-Food program). The news? A survey conducted in conjunction with pollsters Ipsos-Reid and the Globe and Mail found that Power Corp. is considered the most respected business in Quebec, as ranked by its peers. Hopefully, when all the smoke clears on Oil-for-Food, that will still be the case.

Although nothing is (as yet) proven, it is interesting how many connections there seem to be between Power Corp and the various actors and principles in the Oil for Food scandal....
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Aden_Gatling

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Re: The Oil-for-Fraud Scandal â “ the Canadian Connection
« Reply #30 on: April 20, 2005, 14:10:10 »
Wow, the coincidences regarding these Power Corp. guys never cease ...

Quote
Stale Kofi
Annan wants to "reform" the U.N. again. He must be in trouble.

BY CLAUDIA ROSETT
Wednesday, April 20, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

Yet more scandal at the United Nations? Secret deals, millions in bribes, leading to billions in global kickbacks? What to do?

Have no fear, reform is here. The United Nations has already put in place a sweeping set of improvements, with Secretary-General Kofi Annan reorganizing and streamlining the world body to bring about, according to a U.N. reform dossier, "a culture of greater openness, coherence, innovation and confidence." A blue-ribbon panel has "set more stringent standards for judging the performance of peacekeepers, in the field and at Headquarters." And there is now a system for dealing with U.N. staff, that "gives more precedence to merit and competence and less to tenure and precedent."

All of which sounds terrific. Except that the reforms cited above, heralding the new era of openness, coherence, competence, integrity and improved peacekeeping are all plucked from a U.N. dossier released almost three years ago, in June 2002. These reforms were shepherded through by Mr. Annan starting in the late 1990s, with the help of his handpicked special adviser, Undersecretary-General Maurice Strong.

In the course of telling the press on Monday that he "cannot recall a single instance" of contact or discussion with officials responsible for the scandal-plagued Oil for Food program, Mr. Strong did confirm that he has been friendly for years and had a business relationship back in 1997 with a Korean, Tongsun Park. Mr. Park achieved prominence in the 1970s as the go-between who shuttled hundreds of thousands in bribes from the regime of former South Korean dictator Park Chung-Hee to assorted members of the U.S. Congress, in the scandal that became known as Koreagate.

Even if Mr. Strong had the best of intentions, his decision as a high-ranking U.N. official to be involved in any business relationship with the star bag man of Koreagate suggests seriously odd judgment. That should have been obvious even before U.S. federal prosecutors charged Mr. Park last week with accepting some $2 million from Saddam Hussein to convey yet more millions to two (so-far unnamed) high-ranking U.N. officials in an effort to shape the 1996-2003 Oil for Food program to facilitate Saddam's sanctions-busting embezzlement of billions meant for the people of Iraq.
...
http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/cRosett/?id=110006579
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Offline Larry Strong

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Re: The Oil-for-Fraud Scandal â “ the Canadian Connection
« Reply #31 on: April 22, 2005, 09:28:52 »
Undersecretary-General Maurice Strong.


No relation ;D

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Offline Aden_Gatling

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Re: The Oil-for-Fraud Scandal â “ the Canadian Connection
« Reply #32 on: April 22, 2005, 19:31:58 »
Still more smoke:

Quote
Adscam, meet UNscam
DAMIAN PENNY asks, where are the conspiracy theorists when we need them [http://www.damianpenny.com/archived/004212.html]?

Maurice Strong, who had business ties to a Korean businessman caught up in the oil-for-food scandal, also served on the board of Power Corporation, which had ties with TotalFinaElf, an oil company which allegedly profited nicely from the oil-for-food scam. And who else served on the Power Corporation board with Strong? Paul Volcker [http://www.nysun.com/article/12647], the man the UN hired to investigate the program.

Then there's this interesting story:

The Canadian company that Saddam Hussein invested a million dollars in belonged to the Prime Minister of Canada, canadafreepress.com [http://www.canadafreepress.com/2005/cover042205a.htm] has discovered.

Cordex Petroleum Inc., launched with Saddam's million by Prime Minister Paul Martin's mentor Maurice Strong's son Fred Strong, is listed among Martin's assets to the Federal Ethics committee on November 4, 2003.


I have no idea to what to make of this, as yet. There's lots more on the oil-for-food scandal aka UNscam and the Canadian connection here [http://www.acepilots.com/unscam/] and here [http://www.rogerlsimon.com/] and here [http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/archives/001480.html]. Some of the dot-connecting sounds more than a little tinfoil-hatish, but then nothing surprises me these days.
http://andrewcoyne.com/2005/04/blog-post_111420570536912982.php
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Offline Aden_Gatling

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Re: The Oil-for-Fraud Scandal â “ the Canadian Connection
« Reply #33 on: April 25, 2005, 14:16:28 »
Conservatives might yet make an issue of it:

Quote
Conservatives press government over Strong

Foreign Affairs critic Stockwell Day is demanding answers about the relationship between Prime Minister Paul Martin and Maurice Strong. According to a Conservative Party press release:

In question period yesterday Stockwell Day, Official Opposition Foreign Affairs Critic, asked "Mr. Speaker, Maurice Strong, long time Liberal, long time mentor of the Prime Minister, long time business associate of the Prime Minister and companies such as Canada Steamship Lines and Cordex, has suddenly resigned his post at the United Nations. To date the government has refused to stand up and answer questions about the Iraqi oil for food scandal at the United Nations. Canadians are wondering why the Prime Minister will not just stand up in his place and state categorically that there has been no implication of Canadians or Canadian companies in the UN oil for food program. Where does this all end? Why will he not just stand up?"

"We want to presume innocence on these matters," said Day. "However the government's peculiar silence only leaves the questions hanging in the air"


I'm sure the implied response by the government was (choose two of four) that the Conservatives will: privatize healthcare, return women to the back-alley, send gays to the gulag, pollute our streams. But the fact remains (to borrow from Martin from the Liberal convention last month): Question Asked, Question Unanswered.
http://westernstandard.blogs.com/shotgun/2005/04/conservatives_p.html
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Offline Larry Strong

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Re: The Oil-for-Fraud Scandal â “ the Canadian Connection
« Reply #34 on: April 25, 2005, 14:24:18 »
Gawd, he would not give a straight answer on a lunch date, and this is bigger.
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Offline Aden_Gatling

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Re: The Oil-for-Fraud Scandal â “ the Canadian Connection
« Reply #35 on: August 09, 2005, 17:12:32 »
The saga continues ... I can't imagine why anyone would think that the UN-types opposition to the war was a little disingenuous!   :rage:

Quote
On the take

Paul Volcker's latest report says the head of the UN oil-for-food program, Benon Sevan, took thousands of dollars in kickbacks and bribes:

The United Nations' own inquiry into the Oil-for-Food scandal concluded yesterday that the head of its largest humanitarian programme took nearly $150,000 ( £84,000) in kickbacks, most of it in stacks of $100 bills.

Benon Sevan was accused of receiving the cash for steering Iraqi oil contracts to a firm run by a brother-in-law and a cousin of Boutros Boutros Ghali, the former UN chief.

The charge of outright corruption came in the report by the UN inquiry led by Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve. The findings rocked the UN, where officials initially dismissed the Oil-for-Food scandal as a vendetta by right-wing American politicians angered by UN opposition to the war in Iraq.

Mr Volcker's findings suggest that Saddam Hussein's government was successful in effectively bribing the head of the Oil-for-Food programme for the entire six years of its existence. The Volcker commission said that Mr Sevan, who had been struggling after losing on the stock market, received $147,184 in cash from December 1998 to January 2002.

The money came from oil sales by a Panama-based company, African Middle East Petroleum (AMEP), which was run by Dr Boutros Ghali's relatives.

But the company was only able to get the contracts â ” and pay the kickbacks â ” because Iraq had allocated the oil to Mr Sevan. The report found that Mr Sevan had conspired with AMEP's owner, Fakhry Abdelnour, a cousin of Dr Boutros Ghali, and an AMEP officer, Fred Nadler, the brother of Dr Boutros Ghali's wife, Leia.


Sevan has resigned from his position and slithered back to Cyprus. Meanwhile, a United Nations procurement officer, Alexander Yakovlev, has plead guilty to fraud after taking almost a million dollars in bribes from companies doing business with the UN.

And you can be sure all of this is just the beginning.
http://www.damianpenny.com/archived/004681.html
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: The Oil-for-Fraud Scandal â “ the Canadian Connection
« Reply #36 on: August 09, 2005, 19:29:32 »
I wonder when we can expect to see Mo Reeses name turn up again.  That kind of Power play would be a Total surprise.
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Offline Aden_Gatling

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Re: The Oil-for-Fraud Scandal â “ the Canadian Connection
« Reply #37 on: August 16, 2005, 14:10:50 »
I wonder when we can expect to see Mo Reeses name turn up again.

How about now? Air Harbour Technologies

Quote
United in greed, divided it falls
By Mark Steyn
(Filed: 16/08/2005)

How many Annans does it take to change a light bulb? Well, if the replacement light bulb's being shipped to Uday Hussein's Iraqi Olympic Committee recreational basement as part of the UN Oil-for-Food programme, there's no telling how many Annans you'll need.

You'll recall that Kofi Annan's son Kojo - who had a $30,000-a-year job but managed to find a spare quarter-million dollars sitting around to invest in a Swiss football club - has been under investigation for some time for his alleged ties to the Oil-for-Food programme. But the investigators have now broadened their sights to include Kofi's brother Kobina Annan, the Ghanaian ambassador to Morocco, who has ties to a businessman behind several of the entities involved in the scandal - one Michael Wilson, the son of the former Ghanaian ambassador to Switzerland and a childhood friend of young Kojo. Mr Wilson is currently being investigated for suspected bribery over a $50 million contract to renovate the Geneva offices of the UN World Intellectual Property Organisation.

The actual head of the Oil-for-Food racket, Kofi sidekick Benon Sevan, has resigned, having hitherto insisted that a mysterious six-figure sum in his bank account was a gift from his elderly aunt, a lady of modest means who lived in a two-room flat back in Cyprus. Paul Volcker's investigators had planned to confirm with auntie her nephew's version of events, but unfortunately she fell down an elevator shaft and died. It now seems likely that the windfall had less to do with Mr Sevan's late aunt and more to do with his soliciting of oil allocations for another company.

Meanwhile, Alexander Yakovlev, a senior procurement officer for UN "peacekeeping" missions - and, if you're on a UN mission in Africa, no, he can't fix you up with a hot-looking eight-year-old from the local village; Mr Yakovlev apparently dealt with the non-child-sex aspects of UN procuring - anyway, Mr Yakovlev salted away just shy of a million bucks in kickbacks in his account in Antigua. He's just been arrested in New York and pleaded guilty to money laundering, wire fraud, etc.

Despite the current investigations into his brother, his son, his son's best friend, his former chief of staff, his procurement officer and the executive director of the UN's biggest ever programme, the Secretary-General insists he remains committed to staying on and tackling the important work of "reforming" the UN.

Unfortunately, his Executive Co-Ordinator for United Nations Reform has also had to resign. Officially, Maurice Strong, Under-Secretary-General, godfather of the Kyoto treaty and chief UN negotiator on North Korea, resigned because he'd put his step-daughter on the payroll - she's also quit - and because of his ties to Tongsun Park, a Korean businessman charged by the US Attorney's office with taking millions of dollars from Saddam to act as an unregistered foreign agent for Iraq. Mr Park allegedly invested a million of those Saddamite greenbacks in a business of Under-Secretary-General Strong's son - a now bankrupt Canadian petroleum company.

By happy coincidence, Under-Secretary-General Strong and Kojo Annan were both appointed, on the same day, to the board of a company called Air Harbour Technologies, a business registered in the Isle of Man and whose directors also included Michael Wilson, the guy under investigation for the UN office renovation contract in Geneva. It's a small world, at least at the UN. AHT was wholly owned by the son of Sheikh Yamani, the former Saudi oil minister. Yamani Jnr was putting together a $60 million oil deal with Saddam, and seemed to think the presence of UN officials and offspring on his board might help him.

But not to worry. To demonstrate his ongoing commitment to "reform", Kofi Annan has now put his Deputy- Secretary-General, Louise Frechette, another Canadian, in charge of the "reform agenda". In a February report by Mr Volcker's committee, Mme Frechette is said to have helped Mr Sevan block efforts to bring details of the Oil-for-Food boondoggle before the Security Council.

How do we know all the above? We only know because the US invaded Iraq and the Baathists skedaddled out of town leaving copious amounts of paperwork relating to the Baghdad end of Oil-for-Fraud, since when Claudia Rosett and a few other dogged journalists have been systematically unstitching the intricate web of family and business relationships around the UN's operations.

You'd think that by now respect for the UN would be plummeting faster than Benon Sevan's auntie down that lift shaft. After all, these aren't peripheral figures or minor departments. They reach right into the heart of UN policy on two of the critical issues of the day - Iraq and North Korea - or four, if you're one of those Guardian types who's hot for Kyoto and peacekeeping. Most of the Ghanaian diplomatic corps and their progeny seem to have directorships at companies with UN contracts and/or Saddamite oil options. I had no idea being a Ghanaian ambassador's son opened so many doors, and nor did they till Kofi ascended to his present eminence.

The other day I sat behind a car from Massachusetts bearing the bumper-sticker "War is Never the Answer". Well, it depends on the question. In this case, without the war, we wouldn't even be asking the questions. Without the paper trail in Baghdad, who would have mustered the will to look into Oil-for-Food and see it through to the point where it's brought down a clutch of career UN bigwigs? They're no great loss to humanity: Mr Strong's "legacy", the Kyoto treaty, is already seen as a joke that's likely to crash the economies of those few countries who've made the mistake of taking it seriously (New Zealand), and, as for his North Korean outreach, we should be grateful it ended before a full-fledged Kim Jong-Il Nukes-for-Food programme was up and running.

But this is how the transnational jet set works, and those sensitive flowers who don't have the stomach to look under the rock could at least do us the favour of ceasing to bleat about, in Clare Short's marvellously loopy phrase, the UN's "moral authority". In The Times the other day, Matthew Parris demanded to know whether I could now admit the Iraq war had been a mistake. No. I'm still in favour of it 100 per cent - and these rare shafts of light on the sewers of transnationalism are merely one more benefit.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml;jsessionid=1KTP2DBOPMO3RQFIQMFCNAGAVCBQYJVC?xml=/opinion/2005/08/16/do1602.xml&sSheet=/portal/2005/08/16/ixportal.html
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