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Internal United Nations audits of the $64 billion Iraq oil-for-food program have revealed widespread mismanagement
Internal United Nations audits of the $64 billion Iraq oil-for-food program have revealed widespread mismanagement. But, investigators say they have not found evidence of criminal activity. The independent commission looking into the now-defunct U.N. oil-for-food program concludes that administrators were guilty of huge lapses in oversight. Internal audits released by commission chairman Paul Volcker reveal "serious irregularities," including mishandling of funds, fraudulent documentation and bureaucratic bungling. The 58 audits, posted on the commission's Web site over the weekend, are U.N. documents used to monitor the program's activities. U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq says they were intended as a management tool for a program that had to be created from the ground up when the Security Council authorized the humanitarian program in 1995, says Voice of America. "Independent tests were not performed to determine the quality of medicines and vaccines supplied," according to an internal July 21, 1999, UN audit released by Volcker. "The observers had reported that certain goods supplied were found to be unfit for human consumption." U.S. Senate investigator Steven Groves testified in November at a Senate hearing in Washington that Hussein often overpaid for humanitarian shipments, with the understanding that the sellers would return some of that money to Hussein. Inspections might have turned up discrepancies between quantities shipped and what was documented, he said. Groves said "likely hundreds upon hundreds" of the more than 3,500 companies that had contracts with Iraq under the oil- for-food program paid kickbacks to Hussein's government, informs Bloomberg. According to the Turkish Press, shipments into Iraq were supposed to be checked to prevent Baghdad from receiving anything with possible military use -- a crucial condition of the sanctions. A congressman leading one of the probes has called for Annan to resign, in part because Saddam's regime is understood to have siphoned off billions of dollars and alleged to have paid bribes to officials. There are concerns that some of the money diverted is now being used to help fund guerrilla fighters carrying out the deadly insurgency against Iraqi and US forces in the run-up to Iraq's first-ever democratic elections this month. Among other revelations is that the United Nations may have overpaid billions of dollars in reparations claims for Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, which sparked the 1991 Gulf War
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