U.N. bureaucrats are stonewalling requests from Iraq’s new government for records from the scandal-plagued oil-for-food account set up in Saddam Hussein’s handpicked French bank, officials said yesterday.
The mysterious activities over the handling of the U.N. account at the French banking giant BNP Paribas, where $100 billion worth of oil-for-food transactions flowed until the war, has emerged as a central focus of several investigations in the wake of the massive bribery-kickback scandal that has rocked the world body at its highest levels.
United Nations custody of the account was so secretive and unusual that even Saddam, who stole $10.1 billion from the program and bribed sympathetic pols with some of the proceeds, pressed unsuccessfully to have the account transferred out of the bank he originally insisted handle the program, said Claude Hankes-Drielsma, the British businessman advising Iraq’s Governing Council on the issue.
‘The key question in this investigation is, what was the relationship between the U.N. and this French bank?’ Hankes-Drielsma added.
Maybe this is why the French opposed the war.