Saturday, November 05, 2005

Translation of article linked in “La France roulait pour qui ?”

From ¡No Pasaràn!: La France roulait pour qui ? we linked the following in Le Monde:

180 French companies are shown to have bribed Saddam Hussein

Renault VI, Peugeot, and nearly 180 other companies incorporated in France were revealed by the Volcker commission, knowingly or not, to have poured tens of million dollars below-of table to Saddam Hussein in violation of the international embargo on Iraq before the 2003 war. According to documents' obtained by the investigators, within the framework of the "Oil for food" program, Renault VI (truckmaker Renault industrial vehicles, now a subsidiary of Volvo Group) paid more than 6,5 million dollars in bribes. Peugeot is suspected of having illegally poured nearly 7 million dollars.
The relief program had been set up in 1996, to attenuate the [effects of the UN] sanctions. It made it possible for Iraq to sell crude oil such that the profits, controlled by the UN, were used to buy basic goods. Very quickly, Saddam Hussein made it into a tool to skirt the embargo. From 1999, the illegally operation imposed on its suppliers a supposed tax to pay the transit of the goods through the gulf port of Oum Qasr. In 2000 10 % "tax of after-sales service"was added, often paid in cash to accounts in Jordan or Lebanon.

Many French companies paid up. According to Volcker commission documents Renault VI obtained 39 contracts with a value of more than 167 million dollars. They related to the sale of industrial vehicles, cooled trucks, trucks of firemen, tankers, refuse collecting vehicles, spare parts of tractors... More half of these contracts of nearly 78 million dollars would have been the subject of illicit payments totalling approximately 7 million dollars. Renault would have also paid "interior carriage taxes” of an unspecified amount. The investigators say they found precise evidence, some of which is financial data from Iraqi ministries.


Peugeot on the whole obtained 14 contracts, of an approximate value of 169 million for ambulances, cars, minibuses, and spare parts. According to the report four of these contracts, in an amount of more than 77 million dollars, is the subject of 7 million dollars of bribes. In this specific case, the amounts of the bribes "were estimated" by the investigators starting from general information conforming with the "uniform policy of the Iraqi government, which was to claim bribes at certain times" .
During the nineteen months of investigation, the investigators had access to many sources of UN, commercial, banking, and government records. (Paul Volcker accepted the co-operation of French authorities). According to them, these sources are often suspect. The commission admits in its’ October 27 report that nothing proves that the companies approved the illicit payments or were informed of it. "Most companies freely accepted the Iraqi requests. Others made payments with third parties or intermediaries, while not documenting the probable recipients."
All the companies blamed were contacted by the commission and were invited to defend themselves. The majority chose not to respond. According to the report many others companies which provided things like irrigation equipment paid nearly 3 million dollars in bribes, Franco Pétrochimique, which sold parts for the oil industry paid more than one million dollars. Air Liquide Engineering paid 34 272 dollars. Pierre Fabre health, paid 15 895 dollars, Saint-Gobain de Jonquères paid 151 184 dollars, and Sides paid 497 193 dollars.
Other companies named are listed having admitted that payments were made but felt that they were legitimate. It is the case of Urgo laboratories in amounted to 238 643 dollars of sales on bandages. Gerflor Taraflex which paid 12 930 dollars under the table or Francexpa, which sold baby formula paid 9 109 dollars said investigators, but were not put to fault or required that their defense remain confidential. These are only a few example of the 180 French companies that illegally enriched Saddam Hussein.
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