Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Tangled Webs

How interesting. Those who surf the Internet for knowledge of current events may be aware of allegation that British MP and virulent anti-Iraqi war activist George Galloway was in the pocket of Saddam Hussein.

You may also recall the honourable member for Baghdad Centre ridiculing members of a US Senate committee who commented on his shady connections to Saddam?s Baathist regime. From Francis Harris in the The Telegraph:

Mr Galloway appeared before[US] senators five months ago and assailed them for suggesting that he had a business relationship with Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. He told the chairman, Sen Norm Coleman: "You have nothing on me, senator, except my name on lists of names from Iraq."

Later he added: "What counts is not the names on the paper; what counts is where's the money, senator? Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars? The answer to that is nobody. And if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you would have produced them today."
Alas for Mr. Galloway the paper trail now leads to his doorstep. Remember the "We hate George Bush and all that he stands for" crowd rushing to the defence of their anti-war champion and attacking those who attacked Galloway. Now from Mr. Harris we learn of this.

The Palestinian-born wife of George Galloway, the Respect MP, is accused today
of receiving $149,980 (about £100,000) derived from the United Nations Iraqi
oil-for-food programme. A report by an investigative committee of the United
States Senate says the money was sent to the personal account of Amineh Abu
Zayyad in August 2000.

The report, compiled by Republican and Democratic staff, contains detailed information gleaned from Iraqi archives and bank accounts in Britain and Jordan. The investigators concluded that Mr Galloway knew about the payments and that "through his wife was personally enriched" by them. They say that he "knowingly made false or misleading statements under oath before [a US Senate] sub-committee".

....The report includes bank records showing a paper trail from Saddam's ministries to Mrs Galloway. It states that the Iraqis handed several lucrative oil-for-food contracts to the Jordanian businessman Fawaz Zureikat, an old friend of the Galloways.

A month later, on Aug 3, 2000, Mr Zureikat allegedly paid $150,000 minus a bank commission of $20 from his Citibank account number 500190207 into Mrs Galloway's account at the Arab Bank in Amman. The senate team also says that a $15,666 payment had been made on the same date to a Bank of Scotland account belonging to Mr Galloway's spokesman, Ron McKay. Last night Mr McKay said he had no recollection of the alleged payment.

Come, come now Mr. McKay. We would like a more forthright denial than a hackneyed forgetfulness defence. Either your personal bank account has a deposit pertaining to this matter or it doesn't. If the sudden onset of premature senility is a problem, a quick check of your deposits will settle the matter.

Now back to Mrs. Galloway (still with me?) She too has testified about receiving oil lucre from Saddam.
Mrs Galloway, 51, was asked by the Senate committee whether she or her husband had benefited from Iraqi oil sales. She replied: "I have never solicited or received from Iraq or anyone else any proceeds of any oil deals, either for myself or for my former husband." Mrs Galloway started divorce proceedings this
Mr. Galloway, meanwhile, remains unrepentant.

Mr Galloway would not appear before the [US] sub-committee again but responded to 44 written questions. He again said that he had not benefited from Saddam's largesse. Asked whether Mr Zureikat had transferred oil profits to his account, he said: "No". Asked whether his wife or his associates, including Mr McKay, had received any oil profits, Mr Galloway said: "I have no knowledge of Mr Zureikat's business affairs."

With so many folks getting caught up in this wretched affair, I want to state for the record that I, John the Mad, have never benefited in any monetary way from the Oil for Food Program, or from payments made by Saddam Hussein or any of his associates. Of course, in my case that is because I never actually received any money. I don't need to consult the deposits into my chequing account. I can well remember the meagre balance therein. A $15 thousand deposit would stick in my mind.

As a Canadian, the closest association I have to this scandal is my shared citizenship with Louise Frechette, the UN Deputy Secretary General and long-time Canadian federal civil servant who intervened in the Oil for Food investigation,

to stop the United Nations auditors from forwarding their investigations to the U.N. Security Council. This detail was buried on page 186 of the 219-page interim report Volcker's Independent Inquiry Committee released Feb. 3 [2005].

Aside from her role as Kofi Annan's left hand girl she steers the committee on UN Reform and Management Policy. Those of us keenly interested in exposing and cleaning up the vipers nest of fiscal corruption in UN programs await the outcome of her work with abated breath.

Oh yes, there is also Paul Demarais of Power Corporation apparently made a lot of money on Iraqi oil. Power Corporation has a controlling interest in TotalFina Elf, the Belgian oil company,
that cut a deal with Saddam to develop and exploit the Majnoon and Nahr
Umar oil fields in southern Iraq. These properties are estimated to contain as
much as 25 percent of the country's oil reserves.
To be fair, Mr. Demarais or his sons have not been implicated in any wrongdoing. He's a respectable Liberal Quebec businessman and they are known to be squeaky clean and virtuous.

And then there is Maurice Strong, Canadian millionaire mentor and confidant of Prime Minister Martin and Kofi Anan's special representative to North Korea. Strong is denying he made any money on the oil for food program through his association with Korean businessman Tonsun Park, who is up to his corporate eyeballs in the scandal.
Park was charged last week with being an unregistered agent for Iraq in the United States during the 1990s. At the time, the country was under international sanctions for starting the 1991 Gulf War by invading Kuwait. In an indictment that was unsealed Friday, U.S. prosecutors said Park received millions from the Iraqi government to bribe UN officials in a scheme to undermine the oil-for-food program.

They also said Park invested $1 million in a Canadian company set up by the son of a senior UN official, whom they did not name, in either 1997 or 1998. Park has also been linked to former secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

Strong issued a statement Monday confirming that in 1997, Tongsun Park invested "on a normal commercial basis in an energy company with which I was associated that had no relationship with Iraq." He did not name the company.
I take him at his word and expect you do too.
Oh yes, did I mention that Maurice Strong is a former CEO of Demarais' Power Corporation? No? Well he was. And Paul Martin? Well, he also is a former Power Corporation man. Martin bought Canada Steamship lines, the basis of his wealth, from Paul Demarais, from loans given to him by ....... Power Corporation.

And the current CEO is Andre Demarais, the son-in-law of former Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Not surprisingly, Andre Demarais vigorously opposed the invasion of Iraq. Mind you, none of this had any impact on whether the Liberal Government of Canada supported the invasion of Iraq. Perish the thought.

But back to the original point of this post, Mr. George Galloway MP. He had a parting shot for his accusers.
Sen Coleman urged Mr Galloway to allow investigators to see "other account information" to which they had been unable to gain access. Speaking at a press conference last night, he was asked whether Mr Galloway would be prosecuted for perjury. He responded: "We will forward matters relating to Mr Galloway's false and misleading testimony to the authorities here and in Great Britain."

Mr Galloway's riposte was: "I'll see you in court."

Hope is a cardinal virtue they say.


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