Pentagon Document: U.S. Paid Pro-Saddam Figures, Chinese and French
Charles R. Smith
Monday, Feb 28, 2005
Millions Missing – French, Chinese Companies Involved
Newly released Pentagon documents show that a former member of Saddam Hussein's inner circle has resurfaced inside the new Iraqi government, bringing charges of corruption, bribery and bid-rigging.
The documents also indicate that many firms – including French and Chinese ones that had cozy relationship's with Saddam's regime – continue to reap millions in contracts from Iraq's new governing authorities.
As a result, millions of U.S. aid dollars and billions in Iraqi government funds have disappeared in an ongoing scandal that is poised to engulf Baghdad and Washington.
Worse still, a leading candidate for the top elected post in Iraq has also been implicated in the report as having taken "payoffs" in order to rig a major government cell phone contract.
According to a May 2004 U.S. Defense Department report to the inspector general and obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, a former financier and close associate of Saddam Hussein, Nadhmi Auchi, has "engaged in unlawful activities" such as bribing "foreign governments and individuals prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom to turn opinion against the American-led mission to remove Saddam Hussein."
In addition, the report noted that Auchi arranged "for significant theft from the UN Oil-for-Food Program to smuggle weapons and dual-use technology into Iraq in violation of UN and other International Export Control Regimes."
But the U.S. liberation of Iraq has done little to put Auchi out of business. According to the official DoD report, during the U.S. occupation Auchi has organized "an elaborate scheme to take over and control the post-war cellular phone system in Iraq."
According to John A. Shaw, the former deputy undersecretary for international technology security, Auchi not only helped Saddam prior to the war but also worked closely with the French bank BNP Paribas after combat ended, in order to acquire contracts inside Iraq.
"Auchi is the single largest principle shareholder in BNP Paribas," stated Shaw during an exclusive interview.
BNP Parabas has been linked to the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal, with potentially billions of dollars missing, or misused by Saddam though the French bank.
Shaw was very clear that Auchi, a kingmaker in present-day Iraq, used his powers against the U.S.
"From the outset Auchi kept out U.S. companies and U.S. technology," said Shaw of the bidding process for the Iraqi cell contracts.
"There is a gold rush out there [Iraq]. The opportunity is there. There is so much money floating around that the Iraqi minister of communications went to London, passed $20 million to Auchi to have him start the process."
Millions in Bribes
Shaw was not the only official to notice millions of dollars being passed out like so much candy at a party. The May 2004 Defense report supports Shaw's allegations of corruption.
"Bribes amounting to between $18 and $21 million were allegedly allocated among six people," noted the May 2004 report.
"It was reported by the CPA [Coalition Provisional Authority] Baghdad in late April  that financial controls in the MOC [Ministry of Communications] were 'few to non-existent.' In that context, all the records of the cellular tender appear to have disappeared."
The May 2004 report also implicated leading Iraqi Governing Council member Ibrahim al-Jafferi. According to the report, "there remain numerous allegations of payoffs and kickbacks from the winning consortia to a variety of decision makers" including Ibrahim al-Jafferi.
The report noted, "a second source reported a payment of $3 million made to al-Jafferi, and a matching amount to Haider al-Abadi [the Iraqi minister of communications]."
Ibrahim al-Jafferi is currently the leading spokesman for the Islamic Daawa Party and a potential candidate for the Iraqi prime minister job. He is the preferred candidate on the Shia list that won the election.
The implication of al-Jafferi's involvement in the rigged cellular bidding may put a quick end to his rapid rise to power and dash hopes inside Washington for a smooth change inside Iraq to self-governance.
Chinese Arms for Saddam
The May 2004 report was followed more recently by a January 2005 audit report released by the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction.
The January 2005 report noted that hundreds of millions of U.S. aid dollars were missing and "the CPA provided less than adequate controls for approximately $8.8 billion" in U.S. funds provided for Iraq.
The May 2004 DOD report also noted that Iraqi communications contracts have been awarded to French and Chinese companies that either were implicated in the ongoing Oil-for-Food scandal or provided Saddam's Iraq with weapons in violation of the U.N. sanctions imposed by the world body.
The May 2004 report noted that a principle supplier of Iraqi communications hardware for the current cellular contract is "Huawei, a Chinese company that operated in Iraq under Saddam Hussein."
Huawei supplied Saddam with a secure air defense network. The Chinese-built air defense system, NATO code-named "Tiger Song," was sold to Iraq in violation of a U.N. embargo on arms exports.
The U.S. bombed the Chinese fiber optic network prior to and during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Huawei also supplied a sophisticated fiber optic command and control network to the Taliban in Afghanistan prior to the U.S. invasion.
Another major supplier of equipment for the Iraqi cellular system is French-based Alcatel. The French communications company has already been linked to BNP Paribas. Alcatel profited from U.S. and Iraqi money supplied to rebuild the war-torn country.
"The winners in the Iraqi cellular license tender were Saddam's most senior financiers, their Egyptian and Iraqi supporters, the bank BNP Paribas, European cellular corporations – particularly Alcatel and Chinese telecom interests such as Huawei," states the May 2004 Defense Department report.
"If the French had provided a couple of divisions to take Baghdad they could not have gotten more," concluded John Shaw with disgust.