Interim Oil For Food Report: Part 2

Alright… continuing on the analysis of the Interim Report

I’m finding the report quite engaging actually. It’s doesn’t seem to be your standard legaleeze… it’s written much more like a book, and as such is much easier to follow. Intrigue, Scandal, Back stabbing… it’s got it all!! 😉

Here are the conclusions the Report makes on the UNs’ “procurement” process (setting up contractors).

The result was a selection process that, whatever the motivation, failed to meet the organization’s own standards of fairness, objectivity, and transparency.

One pervassive, but not exclusive, influence was broadly “political”: accomodating the concerns of Iraq…. that it be consulted with respect to the escrow bank; accomodating the concerns of the United States about the selection of a Swiss bank; and avoiding concentration of contractors domiciled in one member state.

Objective criteria… are designed to protect the integrity and effectiveness of the organization. At the same time, the decision-makers are influenced by a need to reconcile political concerns of some member states and to achieve a reasonable political balance.

I’m not really surprised by this conclusion, nor by the obviously political rather than objective decisions that were involved, and are spelled out quite clearly, in this report. While it is clear that this is part of the problem, I believe that, realistically, there is only so much that we’d be able to “fix”. In a governmental/political organization like the UN there will always be deals struck and favours given. To suggest that this sort of thing is uncommon in any other government in the world, be it Canada, the US, France, the UK, or Iraq… would frankly be naive and dishonest.

As such, while these conclusions are interesting in that they confirm what we all knew was probably happening in the halls of power anyway, the revelations are necessarily ground breaking, and certainly aren’t reason to dismantle the UN right this second.

That said, I’m only on page 24 or 246 😉

On to the “scape-goat” Benon Sevan:

The Report says, still in the Introduction:

As the Programme evolved, the [Iraqi] Command Council began to grant special oil allocations for the benefit of particular individuals or entities that were perceived to support or be politically favorable to Iraq.

During one of his meetings with Oil Minister Rashid, Mr. Secan asked him for an allocation of oil. He requested this allocation for AMEP [African Middle East Petroleum].

SOMO’s internal records confirm that an allocation was granted in response to Mr. Sevan’s request. [1.8 million barrels of oil were delivered (“lifted”)]

[Starting May 1999 to Dec 1999], AMEP did not initialliy appear in SOMO’s records as a recipient of an allocation. But that changed after Mr. Sevan traveled to Iraq for three weeks in June… to discuss an expansion of the oil spare parts program. Within five days of Mr. Sevan’s departure from Iraq, SOMO updated its crude oil allocation list to reflect the name of “Mr. Sevan” and an allocation of two million barrels of oil.

… Time and again, SOMO’s internal lists and authorization records for these sales indicate the name “Mr. Sevan” (often without indivating the name AMEP).

Beginning in late 2000, Iraq began to demand that oil purchasers, including AMEP, pay an illegal surcharge to Iraq outside the Programme’s escrow account. Although SOMO, continued after this time to grant allocations in the name of Mr. Sevan, AMEP stopped entering into contracts because of the Iraqi Regime’s surcharge policy.

It seems pretty clear that Mr. Sevan has both lied to the Commission and was being granted special allocations of oil from Iraq, not only to benefit AMEP, but later, to himself alone, whether that oil was actually “lifted” and sold, I can’t tell yet.

Either way, it’s obvious that Mr. Sevan is not a scape goat, but rather a very corrupt individual who thought nothing of the grave conflict of interest he was involved in. AMEPs’ profit was around 1.5 million from Mr. Sevans deals, and it is not clear how much Mr. Sevan received though he was paid $160,000 in cash “by his elderly aunt”. Ya right.

More later…