Iraq set aside $15 million (8 million pounds) 10 years ago to bribe or otherwise influence then-U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to shape the oil-for-food program to Saddam Hussein's liking, investigators said on Wednesday.
Iraqi officials gave millions of that in cash in the mid- to late-1990s to middlemen who were supposed to bribe or influence Boutros-Ghali, according to the findings of the Independent Inquiry Committee led by Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.
Among the cast of characters in the complex scheme were Tongsun Park, a South Korean who played a central role in a 1970s Washington influence peddling scandal, and Iraqi-American oilman Samir Vincent, both of whom have been charged with federal crimes in connection with the oil-for-food program.
Also involved were Canadian businessman and longtime U.N. aide Maurice Strong and Cordex Petroleums Inc., a now-bankrupt Canadian oil company whose major investors included Strong's son Frederick and CSL Group Inc., a holding company owned by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.
Park, who had also worked with Vincent since 1993 on the oil-for-food idea, told associates he gave nearly $1 million in 1997 to Maurice Strong, who was then advising Boutros-Ghali and had been lobbied by Iraqi officials to get involved in Iraq.
Park carried the money out of Iraq in a cardboard box, and it ended up invested in Cordex, which had been established by Frederick Strong and failed soon afterward, the report said.
Strong, who lost his job as an adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in mid-July, said he had no memory of getting a check from Park but when shown the check, said he recognized his signature on the endorsement.
This is the sort of news that our MSM should be covering, and the opposition should be hammering away at in Parliament and in the press. Yet a story of corruption that implicates Paul Martin's long-time mentor and close advisor as well as Martin's own business interests seems to have fallen under a blanket of media silence in Canada.
Such reporting as it's received in Canada has been cursory, at best; the in-depth reporting has almost all come from foreign media.
It might be because the story doesn't fit with the MSM's preconceived notions of the United Nations and Canada's role as founder, contributor and exemplar of the multilateral peacekeeping ideal.
It might also be because our media, the CBC especially, has become the client of the Liberal Party. Its top journalists have been seduced with promises of government appointments, but most importantly, the Liberal Party reflects the values of the establishment media. No journalist in Canada who values his career and access to the establishment is going to alienate himself from it by digging into this story.
The opposition's silence is harder to explain. Each of the major opposition parties could benefit from exploiting it. The Tories could play up the corruption angle and note how Canada has abdicated its foreign and defence policy to a gaggle of Third World kleptocrats. The NDP could decry corporate greed at the expense of innocent lives in Iraq, and the corruption of the ideals of the United Nations. The Bloc could argue that it's another example of egregious Liberal Party corruption, profiting Paul Martin personally.
Paul Martin was Finance Minister during much of the oil-for-food program's existence. Even if he didn't peek inside the blind trust, CSL was still involved.
If this isn't enough to bring down Paul Martin, what is?