French, Russians address oil bribe allegations in Iraq weapons report

French officials Thursday denied taking oil voucher bribes from Saddam Hussein in return for help in lifting UN sanctions on Thursday, and Russian officials offered no direct comment in response to similar allegations against them made in Wednesday's Iraq Survey Group (ISG) report. Russian officials said that the UN created an investigative commission on corruption in the oil-for-food program for this purpose and found they considered it imprudent to comment until a public report was issued.

The same report issued by the ISG that found there to have been no stockpiles of biological, chemical or nuclear weapons in Iraq before last year's invasion, listed officials and influential citizens related to 40 different countries who allegedly were targeted for bribes by Saddam Hussein, seeking to profit from illegal sales of Iraqi oil. Specifically targeted, according to the report, were persons whose governments - like France, Russia, and China - opposed the war in Iraq and had veto power in the UN Security Council. Individuals listed include the head of the oil-for-food program, Benon Sevon, former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, radical Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri. The report also noteed that the names of American citizens and corporations were omitted from the released ISG report due to the US Privacy Act. BBC has more on the French denials here, and AFP has more on Russian reaction here. Read the ISG report here.

 

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