U.S. Senate: U.K. and French politicians were allocated Iraqi oil

Thursday, May 12, 2005

A U.S. Senate committee, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), released evidence in a probe that purportedly suggests that two U.K. and French politicians received vouchers for millions of barrels of Iraqi oil in exchange for their support of Saddam Hussein's regime under the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program (OFP).

Under the OFP program, Iraq was allowed to sell its oil rights to whomever it wanted, and at a below-market price. These oil rights could then be re-sold for a higher price, usually between 3 and 30 cents a barrel. U.K. MP George Galloway and French Senate member Charles Pasqua are accused of having these rights allocated to them as a reward for opposing the U.S lead economic sanctions on Iraq. However, no evidence was presented showing that those politicians had received any money benefit out of the scheme.

The PSI committee found Hussien-era documents that appear to show the two politicians received these oil rights. They also heard from officials from the old regime who confirmed the documents.

George Galloway, who won re-election to the British Parliament in a surprise victory, is accused of receiving allocations for 20 million barrels of oil. He is also accused of using the Mariam Appeal, a campaign he set up "to campaign against sanctions on Iraq which are having disastrous effects on the ordinary people of Iraq" which was best known for flying an Iraqi child to England for Leukemia treatment, to conceal the transfer of 3 million barrels of oil.

Galloway, a member of the new British left-wing anti-war Party, Respect, won a ferocious campaign for parliament last week in Bethnal Green and Bow, east London, where a sizable part of the population is of a Muslim southern Asian origin.

George Galloway won libel suits in the past against the Telegraph newpaper which claimed he had accepted bribes from the Iraqi regime. The Senate committee will be holding a further hearing on May 17, and have invited Galloway to attend, where he will be given a seat and a microphone.

Charles Pasqua, currently member of the Senate of France, was in the past Minister of the Interior, in charge of law enforcement, safety measures and relationships with local governments. His name has been cited in several corruption scandals inside France, though he has not been convicted. He currently heads a small Eurosceptic party with no representative in the National Assembly, and is generally considered to be somewhat close to Jacques Chirac's UMP party, though he has distanced himself from that party from 1998 onwards.

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