UK corporates face oil for food questions

Over a dozen British companies paid kickbacks to Saddam Hussein’s regime as
part of the United Nations’ Oil for Food programme, the independent inquiry into
the scandal has found.

GlaxoSmithKline is one of 14 British companies to face allegations from Paul
Volcker, who led the investigation, with two subsidiaries of the blue-chip
pharmaceuticals company implicated.

Glaxo Smithkline Walls House is alleged to have paid $834,390 (£468,000) in
kickbacks to secure $9.1m worth of business selling ‘drugs, medicine,
purinethol’; while Glaxo Wellcome Export Ltd is accused of paying $257,596 for
$2.8m worth of medicines contracts.

The companies did not comment to Volcker’s investigators.

Oil company Sinochem International Oil London Co is also alleged to have paid
a $6m surcharge and Marbel Resources Ltd $3m.

The Volcker committee said Iraq generally demanded kickbacks of around 10%.
These payments ‘were disguised by various subterfuges’ not disclosed ‘by Iraq or
the participating contractors.’

The bribes netted Iraq’s former regime more than $1.5bn prior to being
toppled in the US-led 2003 invasion. In all, 2,200 companies are accused of
making illicit payments.

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