18-Day Suspension Recommended for British Politician Tied to Oil-for-Food Deals

By Maddy Sauer

Jul 18, 2007 8:36am

An 18-day suspension has been recommended for a member of British Parliament whose charitable organization was improperly funded through deals using the Oil-For-Food Program, according to a report released this week by the British House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges. MP George Galloway has long denied the accusations, which surfaced in various media reports beginning in 2003, that he financially benefited from oil deals with the Hussein regime during the years before the Iraq war. He told ABC News in 2004 he never received any money from Iraq, "not one brass farthing," he said. A 2005 Senate subcommittee report on the widespread corruption of the United Nations program, which was intended to bring food and medicine into Iraq during the economic sanctions, found otherwise. The report presented documentation linking a charity founded by Galloway to hundreds of thousands of dollars in oil-for-food transactions. That evidence was passed onto the Committee on Standards and Privileges in the U.K. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who chaired the subcommittee that investigated the program, applauded the new findings. "This document confirms what we’ve known all along," said Coleman. "Galloway was neck-deep in the Oil-for-Food deals, he kowtowed to Saddam Hussein, and his bombastic denials were nothing more than a web of misleading statements." The new U.K. report states that while there is no evidence to say that Galloway "directly and personally, unlawfully received money from the former Iraqi regime," there is strong evidence that indeed his charitable organization was funded through such deals. Galloway, a vocal opponent of the Iraq War, started a charity in 1998, which he named after an Iraqi woman whom he brought to the United Kingdom to receive treatment for leukemia, which Galloway claims was caused by depleted uranium leftover from the 1991 Gulf War. While the original stated goal of the charity was to raise 100,000 British pounds for her treatment, the report concludes "there was evidence of a political element from the outset," and indeed the organization eventually raised more than 1.4 million British pounds, the majority coming from a few foreign donors. One of those donors, who later became the charity’s chairman, was named in the independent United Nations Volcker inquiry as having received allocations of oil under the program. The report concludes that there is "strong circumstantial evidence that the Oil-for-Food Programme was used by the Iraqi government, with Mr. Galloway’s connivance, to fund the activities" of the charity. Galloway responded to the report saying that while he is glad that he has been cleared of personally benefiting from the former Iraqi regime, he sees the entire investigation as politically motivated. "The committee appears utterly oblivious to the grotesque irony of a pro-sanctions and pro-war committee of a pro-sanctions and pro-war Parliament passing judgment on the work of their opponents," he said, "especially in the light of the bloody march of events in Iraq since this inquiry began four years ago." Galloway, according to the report,"damaged the reputation of the House" and concludes that he should be suspended for 18 days. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage.

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