Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, April 27, 2004

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For IMMEDIATE Release

Alleged Abuses & Oil-for-Food Program
Hyde Schedules Wednesday Oversight Hearing on Issues

of
Accountability and Transparency in U.N. Program

 

BACKGROUND: In a March report on Iraqi assets stolen by Saddam Husseinís regime, the General Accounting Office (GAO) doubled to more than $10 billion its estimate of alleged theft and illegal oil smuggling from the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program. At issue are allegations of malfeasance ignored, and even condoned, by U.N. officials responsible for the program. Since its inception in 1996, more than $64 billion of Iraqi oil was sold to finance the purchase of food, medicine, and other humanitarian relief efforts for the Iraqi population. To ensure that the program operated under international standards, inspectors were employed by the U.N. to oversee the program. Throughout its seven-year life, the Oil-for-Food Program underwent frequent changes to cope with methods employed by Saddam Hussein to circumvent these safeguards in order to enrich himself and his cronies, including demands for kickbacks from companies wishing to do business with Iraq. Last week, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan named Paul Volcker, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, to lead an independent investigation of the program. In Iraq, the finance ministry has begun a separate inquiry, with the help of international auditing firms, in an attempt to locate stolen assets. 

WHAT: Full Committee Oversight Hearing: The United Nations Oil-for-Food Program: Issues of Accountability and Transparency

WHEN: 10:30 a.m., Wednesday April 28

WHERE:  Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES: Joseph A. Christoff, Director, International Affairs and Trade, U.S. General Accounting Office; Howar Ziad, U.N. Representative, Kurdistan Regional Government; Michael Soussan, Former Program Coordinator, U.N. Oil-for-Food Program; Danielle Pletka, Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute; Claudia Rosett, Senior Fellow, The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies; and John G. Ruggie, Professor, Harvard University.

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