Iraq To Sue In U.S. Courts Over Massive Oil-For-Food Embezzlement. Will Pak Lah Be Implicated?
The Iraqi government announced today that it intends to file suit in United States courts to recover funds allegedly embezzled from the United Nations oil-for-food program during Saddam Hussein’s rule.
A statement by government spokesman Ali Dabbagh said the lawsuits would target companies and individuals that conspired to corrupt the U.N. program.
Dabbagh did not name any companies or say how much the government hoped to gain by going to court, but his statement cited the findings of a 2005 U.N. inquiry into the program.
That investigation, headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker, concluded that 2,400 companies and individuals participated in fraud that included $1.8 billion in kickbacks to Hussein.
After the inquiry several of those named were prosecuted in the U.S. and Europe, resulting in prison sentences for two Texas oilmen and restitution from several companies totaling 10 of millions of dollars.
But little has been done to recover larger sums from those named in the Volcker report in countries including Russia, China, Yemen, Egypt, Vietnam, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.
Iraq is right to do so. But rest assured this will get ugly, and fast. The oil-for-food program was intended to allow humanitarian goods to reach Iraq while the country was under international sanctions after its invasion of Kuwait, which precipitated the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
***** There has been much speculation that Pak Lah was one of the individuals involved in this mega embezzlement. Although he has previously denied any involvement, it remains to be seen what will surface if the Iraqis go all out with their threat to sue.