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Iraqis launch Oil-For-Food lawsuit in US court

[JURIST] Several Iraqi citizens sued a leading European bank and Australia's wheat exporting agency in New York federal court Friday for corporate misconduct facilitating the corruption of the Iraq Oil-for-Food program [JURIST news archive] which bilked Iraqis out of humanitarian aid while simultaneously enriching the Saddam Hussein regime. French bank BNP Paribas [corporate website] and the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) [corporate website] face a claim for $200 million in damages brought by seven Iraqis seeking class-action status for Iraqi residents of Irbil, Dokuk and Sulaimaniyah who were allegedly deprived of humanitarian aid by the Oil-for-Food kickbacks. The plaintiffs are suing under RICO [text], the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act [DOJ backgrounder] and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act [PDF].

Just last month the Australian government determined that AWB worked directly with Hussein's government to orchestrate the kickbacks that netted the company over an estimated $220 million and recommended charges against the company [JURIST report]. Iraq no longer permits AWB wheat imports. BNP Paribas is believed to have made nearly $1.5 billion in kickbacks. AP has more.

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