[JURIST] Russian diplomats meeting with members of the Independent Inquiry Committee [official website] looking into the now defunct UN Oil-for-Food Program [official website; JURIST news archive] have said that Russian companies did not violate UN sanctions against Iraq while participating in the humanitarian program. As described in a Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement [text] released Thursday, the committee members were told that:
In relation to questions about the role of Russian companies in the humanitarian program it was emphasized that in the course of the implementation of this program our national companies, which they have officially assured the Russian Foreign Ministry about, had acted in strict accordance with the sanctions regime against Iraq as established by UN Security Council resolutions and with relevant legislative acts of the Russian Federation.Investigations into the Oil-for-Food program have found that Saddam Hussein manipulated the UN program to obtain illegal revenues and attempted to influence foreign officials and political figures. Earlier this month, a former UN official pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to taking bribes, and the investigating committee issued a report accusing former program chief [PDF text; JURIST report] Benon Sevan of accepting almost $150,000 in bribes. AP has more.