France's BNP Paribas received hundreds of millions of dollars from the scandal-plagued UN Oil-for-Food program in Iraq, apparently while ignoring rampant abuses in the program, a top US lawmaker charged.Update: See? Turns out that the earlier information implicating Kofi Annan's son in the UN oil-for-food scandal was all wrong! We knew that nobody in the "peace camp" could have — wait a minute!
"There are indications that the bank may have been noncompliant in administering the Oil-for-Food program," said Henry Hyde, chairman of the House of Representatives' International Relations Committee.
"No one seemed to be in charge of watching Saddam Hussein while he and his government were conducting perhaps the largest financial swindle in history," said Hyde, citing findings of a probe by his committee into abuses within the UN program.
But critics say the Iraqi dictator abused the program by offering vouchers for oil as bribes to hundreds of officials from different countries, partly in a bid to get the sanctions overturned.
Hyde alleged that funds from the program were used to buy influence and weapons abroad, among numerous abuses.
"At other times, payments may have been authorized by BNP to third parties, separate from the originally intended recipient of the Letter of Credit," he said.
The Republican chairman added: "If true, these possible banking lapses may have facilitated Saddam Hussein's manipulation and corruption of the program.
Representative Henry Bonilla said at a press conference that panel chief Paul Volcker has agreed to make findings from his inquiry into the now-defunct Oil-for-Food program available to US lawmakers in January …