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

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, March 16, 2005

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Hyde Urges Volcker Commission
to Address Issues Raised by U.S. Indictments

(WASHINGTON) - In a letter to the chairman of the independent commission investigating the United Nations Oil-for-Food scandal, U.S. Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-IL) wrote Thursday that any final report must address issues raised by indictments handed down last week in a U.S. court.

Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, suggested in a letter to the head of the Independent Inquiry Committee that its final report due this summer must address actions by two UN officials who allegedly accepted bribes in connection with the establishment of the program.

“Last week’s release of the (criminal) complaint raises a number of new questions about the genesis of the Oil-for-Food program and, in particular, gives rise to the possibility that the Government of Iraq sought to influence UN officials over the scope and design of the program as early as 1993,” Hyde wrote to Paul A. Volcker, Chairman of the Independent Inquiry Committee into The United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme (IIC).

“Unlike my Committee,” Hyde said, “your inquiry committee has the benefit of cooperation with UN authorities.  Accordingly, it is imperative that your next report address several new questions.”

Hyde said Volcker should use “whatever time is necessary” to address a myriad of questions that have arisen from the indictment unsealed in a Manhattan federal court by David Kelley, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Among questions that the final report must address, Hyde said, are whether or not two – as yet unnamed – high-ranking UN officials were bribed during the establishment of the Oil-for-Food program in the early 1990s.  Other questions which must be addressed in the final report are:

bullet What role did foreign agents working for the government of Iraq play in influencing the establishment of the program’s framework?
bullet Which UN officials accompanied then Secretary-General Boutros Ghali to Geneva in June 1993 for a meeting with Iraqi officials; which Iraqi officials accompanied then-Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz to the same meeting?  
bullet What was the role of former Iraqi Ambassador Ismat Kittani when he served as “special adviser” to Secretary-General Kofi Annan during Annan’s first term? What role did he have with respect to UN policy on Iraq, or on the Oil-for-Food program specifically?
bullet What was the role of former UN Chief of Staff Iqbal Riza in the development of UN policy on Iraq sanctions, in general and specifically, with regard to the Oil-for-Food program?
bullet To what extent did the UN practice of retaining former UN officials, with or without portfolio, under “$1-a-year” or “when actually employed” (WAE) contracts, promote an environment conducive to influence-peddling and bribery with respect to the design of the Oil-for-Food program? 
bullet During the period of the Oil-for-Food program, which retired UN officials were retained on “$1-a-year” or WAE contracts, and what responsibilities did they have related to Iraq policy, or the Oil-for-Food program?  What were their titles and direct responsibilities in this capacity?  As retirees or special employees, were such individuals required to disclose potential or real conflicts of interest?  Was there an effective financial disclosure policy in place at that time?  Was disclosure of participation on corporate boards, in either a compensated or non-compensated basis, required?  Does the IIC believe there is an effective financial disclosure system in place now?

Hyde, who ordered an investigation into the UN program more than a year ago, also announced today that the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), has scheduled an April 28th hearing on the role of Banque National de Paris/Paribas in the Oil-for-Food scandal.

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