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French official denies corruption in Oil-for-Food investigation

[JURIST] France's former Interior Minister Charles Pasqua [BBC profile] said Monday that he did not profit from the now defunct UN Oil-for-Food Program [official website; JURIST news archive] in Iraq. A US Senate report [PDF text; JURIST report; BBC Q/A] released in May alleged that Pasqua, France's former UN Ambassador Jean-Bernard Merimee, and several other English and Russian officials received barrels of oil from Baghdad during the program, which ran from 1996 to 2003. The 78-year-old Pasqua, who was elected to the French Senate in September of last year, is immune from criminal prosecution in France until 2009. Pasqua said Monday that he never received oil vouchers from Saddam Hussein and that somebody else used his name. The UN program allowed Iraq to sell a limited amount of oil to finance the purchase of food and medicine for its people. It ended with the US-led invasion of Iraq, and the Senate estimates that Saddam Hussein's regime made $17.3 billion from the program. Merimee was detained [JURIST report] last week by authorities investigating allegations of fraud and corruption in connection with the oil-for-food program and appeared before a judge [BBC report] in a French inquiry into the scandal. AFP has more.

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