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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK
Senate accuses two in oil scandal
George Galloway
Galloway rejects the charges as patently absurd
Saddam Hussein rewarded two veteran European politicians by allowing them to collect profits as middlemen in oil sales, a new US Senate report claims.

The Senate names British MP George Galloway and former French minister Charles Pasqua, but gives no evidence either actually received money.

Saddam Hussein "used the programme to reward his political allies like Pasqua and Galloway," a leading senator said.

Mr Galloway and Mr Pasqua both deny being involved in Iraqi oil sales.

"I have never profited from anything related to Iraq," said Mr Galloway, formerly a Labour member of parliament but re-elected as a MP for his own Respect party last week after campaigning against the Iraq war.

Saddam Hussein misused the oil-for-food programme to reward people he hoped would work against UN sanctions
Senator Carl Levin
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He told the BBC it was "patently absurd" to think that, as an MP being closely watched by UK security services, he could have become an "oil billionaire" on the sly.

And he blasted the Senate investigation, which he said had never written to him, spoken to him, or responded to his offers to testify.

"This cannot possibly be called an investigation," he said.

"This is a lickspittle Republican committee, acting on the wishes of George W Bush."

Both Republican and Democrat senators signed off on the report, which followed a year of inquiries by the Senate's permanent subcommittee on investigations.

Mr Pasqua - a French senator who served as interior minister in the 1980s and 1990s - rejected the allegations afresh after the report was published.

"I deny them one more time," he said in a statement.

As a senator, Mr Pasqua has immunity from criminal prosecution, but a former aide of his has been questioned over the affair.


The report by a Senate committee investigating the oil-for-food scandal said Saddam Hussein's regime was keen to gain allies with influence abroad.

Charles Pasqua
Pasqua issued a new denial after the report was published

It alleged that Baghdad had given Mr Pasqua the right to buy 11 million barrels of oil, while Mr Galloway had received an option on some 20 million.

Middlemen could collect commissions of 3 to 30 US cents per barrel of oil, the report said.

The committee says it has evidence from documents drawn up by the Ministry of Oil under Saddam Hussein and interviews with "high-ranking Hussein regime officials".

It will follow its report with a public hearing, Oil for Influence, on 17 May.

UN role

Norm Coleman, the Republican senator who chairs the committee, is a sharp critic of the United Nations.

The UN's oil-for-food programme was a $60bn (32bn) scheme set up in 1996 which was supposed to allow Iraq to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies with the proceeds of regulated oil sales.

The programme aimed to relieve the suffering of Iraqis under the sanctions and was formally ended in 2003 after the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Mr Galloway campaigned against the sanctions.

Questions over the way the programme was conducted emerged in early 2004, after an Iraqi newspaper published a list of about 270 people including UN officials, politicians and companies it alleged may have profited from the illicit sale of Iraqi oil.

Mr Pasqua's name appeared on the list. He issued a denial at the time.

Libel suit

US Senate investigators later found that Saddam Hussein's regime made $17.3bn from abuses of the oil-for-food programme.

About $13.6bn allegedly came from selling oil to neighbouring states keen to breach the sanctions.

The programme has already been the subject of several corruption investigations.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has been criticised over his son's work with the programme, but he himself, in an interim report by a UN committee issued in March, was cleared of wrongdoing.

Mr Galloway won a libel suit against the London-based Daily Telegraph newspaper over an article relating to his alleged role in the oil-for-food programme.

The Senate report said the documents it used to make the allegations "have no relation" to those discussed in the Daily Telegraph piece.

Listen to George Galloway respond to the report's claims

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