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France to investigate 172 companies in oil-for-food scandal

[JURIST] French judicial officials have begun an investigation of the 172 French companies implicated in the UN oil-for-food scandal [JURIST news archive] by the October 2005 report [JURIST report] of the UN Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) [official website] chaired by former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker. French magistrate Philippe Courroye, who has been probing French involvement in the scandal for three years, distributed parts of the IIC report and other documents to prosecutors in Paris. At the outset, the investigation will only cover French companies that paid surcharges on contracts for trucks, and medical equipment and supplies.

Under the massive UN Oil-For-Food Program [official website] which ran from 1996 to 2003, Iraq was allowed to sell oil and use the proceeds to buy humanitarian goods to help citizens cope with the UN sanctions placed on the country. The IIC report [PDF] also found that Iraqi leaders able to award the oil contracts denied contracts to American, British and Japanese companies due to their government's support for the sanctions, while they favored Russia, France and China. AP has more. Le Monde has local coverage [in French].

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