The Oil-for-Food programme was a scheme under which Iraq, which was facing export sanctions, was authorized to sell oil to people of their choosing. Iraq, naturally chose to sell oil to nations and people who were sympathetic to their view. There is nothing illegal in this. But one source of illegal income was from something called “surcharges” paid on crude oil contracts and Iraq made about 228 million dollars through this.
Besides established companies, Iraq also awarded contracts to individuals in positions of influence as well and the selected people were ones who were influential in their countries, and produced pro-Iraq, anti-sanction views. Political parties and organizations too received allocations and familiarity with the oil trading market was not required. Individuals and entities other than the named contracting party are called “non-contractual beneficieries” in the Volker Report . Natwar Singh, Congress Party, and Bhim Singh are listed under this category.
The Indian Express has more
While Natwar has called these allegations ‘‘baseless and untrue’’, the fact is his son Jagat was involved in promoting M/s Hamdan Trading, which is owned by his friend Andy Sehgal, for cornering contracts in Iraq between 2000-2002. Indian diplomats posted in west Asia in that period confirm that Jagat Singh paid at least two visits to Iraq, one of them just days before Saddam’s ‘‘referendum’’ of October 15, 2002.
On condition of anonymity, these officials alleged Jagat, who is now Congress MLA from Lachchmangarh, Rajasthan, used the offices of the Indian Embassy in Baghdad to push his business interests. [Cong Saddamed by Natwar & his son]
Natwar Singh also alleged that Paul Volker, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, of having political designs and suggested that the commission of targetting opponents of the war. At this point the whole anti-war crowd draw caricatures of themselves. Just look at Table III of the report and you can find Americans, British, Italian and Spanish people mentioned among the list of beneficieries and these are countries involved in the invasion. If Natwar was right in his conspiracy theory, then none of these people would be there.
Here is another gem
India’s External Affairs Minister wanted to know why Mr. Volcker had headed the Committee and not “some independent person from the developing world.”
We will let that pass, but here is a gem from the ever hilarious Communists. CPI(M) senior leader Dipankar Mukherjee said
“One thing is certain that in this era of liberalisation, corruption is a component of the system itself,” he said.[Volcker report allegations baseless: Natwar]
So it is the fault of liberalization of the economy. I remember that wonderful time when India was under socialism and milk and honey were flowing on the streets and Govt. officials were walking around threatening to help public.
Both the Communists and Congressmen seem to be caught off-guard with this and are trying all possible tricks from their book to get this off their back. Instead of using the old and crude techniques (like blame Paul Volker, blame liberalization, blame Darth Vader), it would be great if Natwar Singh can explain to us the role of Jagat Singh and his relation with Masefield AG, the contracting company. That would have more credibility. But that is too much to expect.
Related Links: The Acorn builds the case for why Natwar Singh must resign.