June 14, 2004
UNSCAM UPDATE: It looks as if U.N. staff may have been involved:
Washington --- An independent investigation of the United Nations' controversial Iraq oil-for-food program is close to releasing an interim report this summer that is expected to focus on U.N. staff involvement in the program.
But critics and supporters of the United Nations will likely have to wait about a year before the three-member committee releases its findings to the public on a wide array of allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the massive program.
UPDATE: William Safire writes "Tear down this U.N. stonewall!"
Let's advance this story. Two BNP Paribas sources tell me this: in a storage facility in Lower Manhattan, the bank had a large room containing some 5,000 oil-for-food file folders.
Each folder contained a copy of the bank's letter of credit authorized by a U.N. official to pay a contractor for its shipment; a Notice of Arrival monitored by Cotecna at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr if by ship, or the Jordanian border crossing of Trebil if by truck; and a description of the contract. The original paperwork went to the Rafidain bank in Amman, Jordan; copies of the damning documents are stored by BNP Paribas in New Jersey.
Though the U.N. purchases were supposedly to supply desperate Iraqis with food or medicine, most of this evidence deals with items like construction equipment from Russia, hundreds of Mercedes-Benz limousines from Germany and thousands of bottles of perfume from France.
The money trail grows cold; won't some lawful authority (Hyde? Snow? Spitzer?) issue a subpoena that would start "due judicial procedure"?
Read the whole thing. And read this, too.