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Posted on 11/17/2004 12:15:27 PM PST by OXENinFLA
Statement of The Honorable Henry Hyde before the Full Committee Hearing on "Oil-for-Food: Tracking the Funds" Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Whilst rank corruption, mining all within, Infects Unseen. William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Hamlet, Act 3
I am beginning to believe that the prevailing sentiment regarding the United Nations Oil-for-Food program may have been "hear no evil, speak no evil, and see no evil." No one seemed to be in charge of watching Saddam Hussein while he and his government were conducting perhaps the largest financial swindle in history. The corruption Saddam and his regime sowed created scores of accomplices around the world at the expense of the Iraqi people. Far too many people looked the other way as Saddam stole billions from the program.
We must remember that the Oil-for-Food program was designed to benefit the Iraqi people. It was imperative that they be fed and their medical needs attended to. Yet, the Iraqi Government, the very government whose responsibility it was to provide that aid, deprived them of the benefits from the sale of their vast oil reserves, cynically using those funds to buy influence and weapons abroad.
Saddam Hussein corrupted every aspect of the program, and various sources indicate that he may have received help from some of our Allies, and perhaps even U.S. citizens, in doing so. This is why this issue has taken on a sense of urgency. We must determine to what extent Saddams corruptive influence tainted others and perhaps even those we trusted most to help us to isolate and disarm him.
Following the release of the recent report by Charles Duelfer (DULL-FER) who is here with us today, information has come to light as to the breadth of Saddams actions both at the United Nations and with our allies. On the one hand, some of our allies, eager to do business with Iraq, did all they could to facilitate business there. The commercial advantage they so eagerly sought in Iraq might well have made them susceptible to manipulations by Saddam Hussein and influenced their relations with the U.S. and with Iraq. On the other hand, the U.N., it now appears, so eager to provide humanitarian goods to Iraq, may have compounded the foreign policy challenges faced by the U.S. by overlooking Saddams corruption.
I am eager to hear from Mr. Duelfer whether, in their eagerness to sell goods to Iraq, some of our allies and other nations sold dual-use goods and perhaps even weapons to Iraq through the Oil-for-Food program. We must know if these weapons were used against our troops in Iraq.
As for Saddam, it is also important for us to determine whether the profits from his corruption were put toward terrorist purposes, as we believe may have occurred. According to the information provided to this Committee, Saddam paid $25,000 rewards to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers through the Iraqi Ambassador to Jordan out of accounts in the Rafidain [Rah-Fee-DAYN] bank in Amman, which held kickback money Saddam demanded from suppliers to his regime. Evidence also points to Saddam extending the Arab League boycott against Israel, requiring companies dealing in the program to sign letters conforming to the boycott.
When we speak of the transaction of funds, we must not omit from our examination the Banque Nationale de Paris, or BNP. This was the bank which held the proceeds from Iraqs oil sales from the Oil-for-Food program.
In the process of examining the bank's role in the Oil-for-Food program, we looked at the bank's performance in verifying the identity of its customers as called for under U.S. law and through the U.N. Oil-for-Food program. There are indications that the bank may have been noncompliant in administering the Oil-for-Food program. If true, these possible banking lapses may have facilitated Saddam Husseins manipulation and corruption of the program.
Evidence seems to indicate that in some cases, payments in the Oil-for-Food program were made by BNP at times with a lack of full proof of delivery for goods and other necessary documents contracted for in the Oil-for-Food program. At other times, payments may have been authorized by BNP to third parties, separate from the originally intended recipient of the Letter of Credit. These are issues which I am looking forward to having our witnesses from BNP address.
We should be concerned that BNP might well have facilitated improper payments to companies that were shipping illegal goods to Iraq. With the bank administering thousands of contracts, we need to know if this occurred and, if so, how many times.
Moreover, as we understand, BNP received millions of dollars in fees over the life of the Oil-for-Food program. This is a lot of money, and it is reasonable to ask if BNP adequately supervised its compliance programs overseeing the administration of the Oil-for-Food program, especially in light of the widespread reports in the press of corruption within the program.
Because of the importance of these issues, I will refer the details of what we have found about BNP to the Financial Services Committee under the able direction of Chairman Mike Oxley. Questions related to the Federal Reserves oversight, while peripheral to our jurisdiction, may be important in the process of untangling this web. Chairman Oxley and I have talked, and we agree on the need to review BNP's performance in its capacity as the bank used by the U.N. for purposes of the Oil-for-Food program.
As we proceed with this matter, it is important for us to review the performance of the U.N. as an institution. In the future, we need to ensure that programs like Oil-for-Food, if they are deemed helpful and necessary, should proceed with greater oversight by member states, with increasing accountability and transparency. The U.N. itself must reform. With this in mind, my friend, Tom Lantos, the Ranking Democratic Member of this Committee, and I are introducing legislation today that will aim to improve U.N. accountability and transparency. We need international institutions that are transparent, answerable to outside scrutiny, and beyond reproach.
We have uncovered what appears to be serious malfeasance on an international scale. The ultimate victims of Saddams corruption have been the Iraqi people, and I believe they have already suffered enough. They are owed an accounting of the crimes of their former government. How many Iraqis were convinced that the United States was the party denying them their food and medicine, when, in fact, it was their own countrys leader and his corruption which were depriving them?
We must explore the full dimensions of the corruption that plagued the Oil-for-Food program from start to finish. To achieve this proper accounting, we will continue the search, leaving no stone unturned.
Moreover, it must be clear that if cooperation from those agencies and institutions involved in this program continues to be inadequate, then we will exercise such enforcement remedies as the law makes available to us.
This inquiry is just beginning.
FNC is the only station carrying coverage of this....
I'm watching it on FNC
Lantos is ripping into France......
hehe, oil for fraud
Says ... It should be called Oil for Fraud and not Oil for Food
Now slamming state dept ......
The Patriot Act and its implementing regulations also:
|expanded the AML compliance program requirements to all financial institutions, including broker-dealers and casinos;
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|required regulatory agencies to evaluate an institutions AML record when considering bank mergers, acquisitions, and other applications for business combinations; and
|provided the Secretary of the Treasury with the authority to impose "Special Measures" on jurisdictions, institutions, or transactions that are of "primary money-laundering concern."|
Most of the rulemaking under the Patriot Act is now completed, and banking organizations have made significant investments to ensure compliance with these requirements.
Unlike Sen Levin who played Defense Lawyer for the UN
This Dem (Lantos) is RIPPING into the UN
Somewhat off-topic question for the group...Benon Savin is most likely very dirt. Under what jurisdiction could he be indicted and tried? Iraq?..doesn't seem possibly.. The World Court?..Where's the docket for UN types who commit crimes?
Lantos slammin Putin's buddies...
Per. FNC last night they don't think ANY UN officials will be in front of these hearings.
Lantos just about accused Chirac of taking bribes..
I don't know for sure .. but I would guess the The World is who should also be taking this up
I know..my point is..where could they be indicted and tried?..what jurisdiction?
Oh happy day. Lantos is going after the Department of State.
Hmmmmm and who's administration was largely responsible ... THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION and MADDY THE TROLL???