Among the revelations at the April 22 hearings [in Congress], Insight has learned from investigators directly working on the case, will be new details of oil vouchers allegedly granted to Patrick Maugein, a prominent crony of French President Jacques Chirac, said to total 72.2 million barrels.Hat tip: Mårten (emphasis added)
Maugein's involvement in the U.N.-approved oil deals is significant, investigators say, because he is believed to be a conduit for backdoor payments to Chirac and his family. It was Chirac who spearheaded a worldwide coalition last year that opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and tried desperately to keep Saddam in power.
When the allegations of backdoor payments first surfaced in a Paris courtroom in 1998, Maugein swept them aside as "pure fantasy." And in a statement provided to Insight, he denies having raised funds for Chirac, his family or his political campaigns. But as more evidence begins to leak from the archives of Saddam's former oil ministry, such denials may become harder to sustain.
The vouchers were assigned to two trading companies, identified in the Iraqi documents as Trafigura and Ibex, both of which were involved in the Essex incident. Investigators say they believe both companies are tied to Maugein, either through beneficial ownership or contractual arrangement. Vouchers for an additional 11 million barrels were granted to Maugein business partner Cabecadas Rul de Soussa, according to the original Al-Mada list. The ties between de Soussa and Maugein were first revealed by Therese Raphael of the Wall Street Journal Europe.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Massive Scandal on Horizon
Writing in Insight mag, Conservative reporter Kenneth R. Timmerman, author of the screed The French Betrayal of America, claims to have a scoop: