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The Oil-for-Food Scandal @ the Canadian Connection

Monday, 17 January 2005 12:00 AM

Various congressional committees have launched hearings into what has been described as the biggest corruption scandal in history. Not surprisingly, U.N. officials have refused to cooperate with the congressional investigations.

The investigations have turned up a number of damning facts that point directly to the incompetence at best, complicity at worst of the most senior U.N. officials and those involved.

It is now well known, for example, that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's own son was getting big cash payments from a Swiss firm that profited from the program, in return for his "expert" opinions and advice. Recently published evidence shows that Annan's son was paraded as a high-level contact within the U.N.

The congressional investigations have surfaced preliminary accounting figures that show that Saddam Hussein likely siphoned off as much as $15 billion, almost a quarter of the entire funds transferred.

While the anti-U.S. critics wailed at the impact of the embargo on the Iraqi people, their attention miraculously centered on the nation that liberated the victims of Saddam's original aggressions – and not on the Thug in Chief or his numerous continental 'partners'.

Free to "govern," Saddam did so with a vengeance, and the rest, as they say, is history – which, thankfully, Congress is now exposing after the U.S. military put an "Out of Business" sign on Baghdad.

Hussein was not alone in his corruption, and several others involved in the money flow, including government firms and politicians in Europe, are now nervously following the investigations while checking out one-way flights to Paraguay.

Top among these is the European-based BNP Paribas bank, which the U.N. chose to administer the program and which reportedly received nearly $1 billion for its efforts. Congressional investigators reviewing the bank's actions have discovered broken rules, missing documents and improper transfers by BNP Paribas, which up until now has been assumed to be a French bank.

In fact, BNP Paribas is actually controlled by Power Corporation, an appropriately named Canadian company that has a shocking track record of 'business' relationships with the worst gangsters and tyrannical regimes in the world.

BNP Paribas also has one other distinguishing feature: a direct corporate and familial relationship with the persons running the government of Canada for the last 20 years.

The truth about BNP Paribas and Power Corp. sheds a new light on Canada's seemingly bizarre anti-American foreign policy in the Middle East, in China and elsewhere.

BNP Paribas bank is part of a holding company, Pargesa Holding, which is jointly owned and controlled by the Frère and Desmarais families. Paul Desmarais Sr. is the chairman of the group, while Albert Frère is the vice-chairman. Gerald Frère, Albert's son, is one of three general managers who oversee day-to-day operations, and Paul Desmarais Jr. is also an officer.

Pargesa, and thus Power Corporation and the Canadian Desmarais family, holds a controlling significant stake in TotalFina Elf, the Belgian-French petroleum multinational corporation formed from the merger of Total and Petrofina.

BNP Paribas and TotalFina may have blood-stained corporate histories, but the intimate and intricate connections of Power Corp. to Canada's governing elite raise the truly disturbing questions.

Power Corporation CEO Andre Desmarais is the son-in-law of former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who went out of his way to oppose U.S. intervention in Iraq, where the family's business interests with the Saddam regime would be jeopardized.

Current Canadian PM Paul Martin is a former Power Corporation employee who made his fortune when he bought Canada Steamship Lines from Power Corp. aided by loans from Power Corp. To this day both CSL and Power are reported to have mutual equity interests in each other.

The most senior foreign affairs/international trade adviser to current Canadian PM Paul Martin is Maurice Strong, former CEO of Power Corp. and a longtime U.N. and Kofi Annan adviser.

So, who is TotalFina Elf? Just an oil company that cut a deal with Saddam to develop and exploit the Majnoon and Nahr Umar oil fields in southern Iraq. These properties are estimated to contain as much as 25 percent of the country's oil reserves.

With Saddam under arrest, the Canadian-controlled company has expanded its "client base" and now has a deal with the murderous Sudanese regime to quietly extract its oil and funnel profits back to Khartoum for its infamous social programs.

Disgusted by the lethargic pace and willful blindness of the U.N.-led investigation of itself headed up by Paul Volcker, the U.S. Congress opened its own investigation. Committee investigators found that eight government agencies notified BNP Paribas about "deficiencies" in handling money in the U.N. program.

No wonder Congress smelled a rat when it watched the deliberately ineffectual U.N. 'review' of the 'Food-for-Oil' program. Thankfully, it followed up on that and launched its own investigations which, if allowed to follow their natural course, will inevitably expose fraud, corruption, sleaze, theft, incompetence and, perhaps in the long run most significantly, the corrupt political and personal motivations of supposedly friendly governments, including Canada, in this entire mess.

For our Canadian friends and supposed partners, we are left with the disturbing question: Who's really in charge and whose interests are they really serving?

Charles Smith will be on:

The Jeff Rense Show on Wednesday, 1/19/05, at 10 p.m. Eastern time. Show information at http://www.rense.com

The Charlie Smith Show on the American Freedom Network on Monday, 1/24/05, at 11 a.m. Eastern time. Show information at http://www.americanewsnet.com/

The Jerry Hughes Show on Friday, 1/21/05, at 3 p.m. Eastern time. Show information at http://www.cilamerica.com.


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Various congressional committees have launched hearings into what has been described as the biggest corruption scandal in history.Not surprisingly, U.N. officials have refused to cooperate with the congressional investigations. The investigations have turned up a number of...
Monday, 17 January 2005 12:00 AM
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