Skip to comments.U.S. probes if Syria spent Iraq oil profit
Posted on 07/26/2005 6:09:58 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Syria misspent more than $500 million in Iraqi oil money left over in its central bank after a three-year stretch of doing business with Baghdad in defiance of U.N. sanctions, U.S. investigators claimed in documents obtained Tuesday.
A House of Representatives subcommittee is questioning if the money, deposited in two accounts at Syria's Central Bank, was later used to finance attacks in Iraq. The United States has repeatedly claimed that insurgents used the bank to launder cash.
The documents were to be the focus of a Wednesday hearing by the subcommittee, on the Middle East and Central Asia, about Syria's relationship with Iraq at the time of the $64 billion U.N. oil-for-food program.
"The public deserves to know Syria's role in the oil-for-food scandal and there needs to be an accounting of those funds to ensure they aren't being used against us," subcommittee Chairman Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, said in a statement.
The oil-for-food program aimed to help ordinary Iraqis suffering under U.N. sanctions imposed after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, delivering more than $40 billion in aid by some accounts.
Previous investigations have found that Syria, as well as Jordan, Turkey and Egypt, illegally bought oil from Iraq outside the program, to the tune of more than $8 billion from 1991 until 2003.
The documents, obtained by The Associated Press, were drawn up by investigators from the Internal Revenue Service's criminal division. They purport to show that Syria was one of Iraq's primary sources for illicit cash, saying deals generated $3.4 billion for Iraq from 2000 to 2003 alone.
IRS investigators determined that in June 2000, the two countries agreed to a deal under which Syria would buy Iraqi oil outside the oil-for-food program. Sixty percent of proceeds would be paid in Syrian goods, while the rest would be paid in cash.
Two accounts were created at Syria's Central Bank to handle the deal.
According to the investigators, the accounts held $842 million in March 2003, when the U.S.-led campaign to topple Saddam began. Subsequently, it found that $578 million was disbursed without the permission of Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization, the official sales agency for Iraqi oil.
According to the documents, Syria's Central Bank refused to hand over copies of some 370 contracts between "Syrian businessmen" and Iraq under the trade deal.
Syria's U.N. ambassador, Fayssal Mekdad, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Tuesday. Iraq's deputy ambassador Feisal Istrabadi, who deals with oil-for-food issues, was home sick and would not comment.
The next report on the scandal-tainted Iraqi oil-for-food program will focus on two U.N. officials -- the head of the program and a key purchasing officer, a spokesman for the inquiry said on Tuesday. But the report will leave substantial discussions of Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his son, Kojo, to a later date. The original oil-for-food report is shown being released in New York February 3, 2005. Photo by Chip East/Reuters
Check Joe Wilson, maybe he got soeme of it.
I guess you only get your hands chopped off for stealing something small!
The article seems to deliberately blur the line between the two investigations.