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Senate report claims Russian officials involved in oil-for-food scam

[JURIST] A US Senate panel reported Monday that Saddam Hussein's government provided Russian officials with millions of dollars in oil rights under the oil-for-food program [JURIST news archive] in a bid to lift UN sanctions against Iraq. The report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations [official website], a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs [official website], follows a trail of money to Alexander Voloshin [NPI profile], former chief of staff [BBC report] to both former Russian president Boris Yeltsin [Wikipedia profile] and current incumbent Vladimir Putin [official website], though the report acknowledges that there is no evidence Putin knew of the payments. Transactions were traced through the Russian Presidential Administration [official website, English version] headed by Voloshin via shell companies and the report estimates the Administration received some $3 million. Voloshin netted another 5.6 million in kickbacks or surcharges to Iraq. Russian legislator Vladimir Zhirinovsky [Wikipedia profile], a frequent visitor to Iraq, was also named in the report as a beneficiary of payments and kickbacks. The new allegations are likely to be discussed in a Senate Homeland Security committee hearing [agenda] Tuesday. Reuters has more.

1:50 PM ET - Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yury Fedotov denied that Moscow had any evidence of oil-for-food cheating in an interview Monday saying, "We have seen no materials that could prove or suggest that Russian companies or individuals who took part in the oil-for-food program broke any law." AFP has more. From Russia, Interfax has local coverage.

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