Most of the contracts went to Russian and French companies and individuals, who were rewarded for their governments' outspoken opposition to the sanctions. Still, even firms in countries supportive of the sanctions, such as the United States, found ways to manipulate the system illegally — sometimes by using Russian firms as middlemen.
The report strongly criticizes the U.N. Secretariat and Security Council for failing to monitor the program and allowing the emergence of front companies and international trading concerns prepared to make illegal payments.
The report cleared former U.N. Secretary-General, Egyptian Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who headed the world body when the oil-for-food program was launched, of accepting bribes.
Among the individuals targeted in the report, investigators found that Jean-Bernard Merrimee, France's former U.N. ambassador, received $165,725 in commissions from oil allocations awarded to him by the Iraqi regime. He is now under investigation in France.
Other "political beneficiaries" included British lawmaker George Galloway; Roberto Formigoni, the president of the Lombardi region in Italy; and the Rev. Jean-Marie Benjamin, a priest who once worked as an assistant to the Vatican secretary of state and opposed Iraqi sanctions.
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