Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Thursday, February 17, 2005

Talk about a sieve
Written by: Beck

OK, there were two really simple components to the UN's Oil-for-Food program: oil goes out, food & medicine go in. Really simple right? If Saddam wanted to cheat, there'd be two key ways to do it: by smuggling out oil to sell on the black market, and by smuggling in banned goods.

Naturally, being a hard working, entrepreneurial sort of dictator, Saddam was engaging in both.

Cotecna, one of the major firms responsible for inspecting imports (and a former employer of Kojo Annan) seems to have engaged in corruption on such a widespread, systematic scale that they would have added more value had they simply stayed home. At least that way, the United Nations (and the American tax payers who foot the bill) could have saved on travel and hotel costs.
In a move that provoked fury from officials of the Swiss firm Cotecna [note that Cotecna is not furious because their employees were corrupt; rather, they're furious because a whistle-blower came forward --ed], an Australian former inspector detailed a picture of incompetence, indifference and drunkeness among the men acting as the frontline for UN sanctions.

[...] He said that at Iskendurun in eastern Turkey, some officials had refused to work.

When he asked one of his bosses why, he was told: "They were friends or relatives of potential clients, and are only in the mission so the company could secure future contracts in Nigeria, Comoros and another African country.

[...] Other inspectors had spent most of the day in hotel rooms while others drank beer and talked to the local people.

[...] At another monitoring site where the UN was supposed to check humanitarian aid supplies, Mr Ventham noticed "the team leader and his fellow countrymen [the nationality is unstated] spending the majority of their time in each other's rooms drinking vodka as opposed to managing and leading the team".

There he noticed small vessels and barges moving to a small island each night.

"I mentioned this to a number of other inspectors saying there was plenty of scope for smuggling and what were the UN doing about it.

"I was extremely surprised by the response that it was common knowledge smuggling was going on at Um Qasir [and that] the oil was being sold on the black market to augment the regime."
In the other direction, the Senate Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations is going after an employee of Dutch company Saybolt who had been responsible for monitoring Iraqi oil exports. Looks like he was taking bribes to look the other way while Iraq exported undocumented oil, netting a handy 2% commission on these off-the-book sales.
"We have found disturbing evidence that one of the U.N. oil monitors -- the individuals hired by the U.N. to inspect the oil exports from Iraq under the OFF Program -- took a bribe," said subcommittee chairman Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican.
And just think, your tax dollars made the UN bureaucrats jobs' possible, and their corruption helped Saddam raise the money that armed the current insurgency responsible for taking the lives of American servicemen. Thanks UN!

(Hat tip: CQ X2)

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