Iraq's Odious Debts

Former CSIS chief probes oil-for-food program

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

June 16, 2004

Toronto, Canada: The former head of Canada’s spy agency will conduct an investigation into allegations of corruption and fraud surrounding the United Nations’ oil-for-food program in Iraq.

Reid Morden, 63, who headed the Canadian Security Intelligence Service from 1987 to 1991, will oversee day-to-day operations of the Independent Inquiry Committee.

Morden, a former Canadian diplomat and senior Ottawa bureaucrat with corporate experience in forensic accounting, was chosen by the committee’s three-member panel. The panel is led by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker.

“I think it’s potentially important for the UN to either learn some lessons or to have the names of a number of people cleared – one of the two,” Morden told the Globe and Mail.

The UN Security Council ordered the probe following allegations that Saddam Hussein, senior UN staff members and private companies conspired to skim billions of dollars from the program.

The $67 billion humanitarian aid project was shut down last year when the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq.

The oil-for-food program was supposed to be a humanitarian effort. Profits from Iraqi oil sales were to be used exclusively to buy food and medicine for the people of Iraq.

A report from an arm of the U.S. Congress has estimated that up to $10 billion US was skimmed off, with Saddam grabbing most of it.

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