Revealed: How oil-for-food reaped a web of contracts for Zureikat

The Jordanian businessman named as George Galloway's man in Iraq made money from a web of deals under the UN's oil-for-food programme set up to help the Iraqi people.

Critics of the programme, which has delivered humanitarian aid worth £17bn to Iraq since 1997, allege that Saddam Hussein's regime made up to £1.25bn a year by manipulating the project and smuggling.

Fawaz Zureikat, 48, said he had won a series of legitimate contracts under the oil-for-food programme ranging from supplying food to delivering spare parts for industry.

He declined to give details of his work and when asked whether he had been requested to pay a kickback to the Iraqi regime, he replied: "No comment". He said he won his contracts because of his ministerial contacts from working in the country for 17 years. "I cannot talk about my business, this is private," he said. "It's a good business... generating enough money for me to live, my family to live and to support activities I care about."

Mr Zureikat, who trained as an engineer in Baghdad and worked for the Iraqi oil ministry, is reported by The Daily Telegraph to have met Iraqi intelligence officers to negotiate on Mr Galloway's behalf for oil contracts. Both Mr Galloway and Mr Zureikat deny any involvement in such meetings.

The oil-for-food programme was set up as a temporary measure to relieve suffering of the Iraqi population after five years of sanctions following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

A humanitarian disaster prompted a reassessment and, despite the initial intransigence of Iraq, the oil-for-food programme was conceived. The UN said there were strict controls to prevent its abuse but, despite delivering aid on which the population has depended, critics said it was a useful source of backhanders for the regime.

The programme allowed for Iraqi oil to be sold with two thirds of the proceeds going towards humanitarian needs. The remainder went on war reparations and administration. At the start of the programme in 1996, Iraq was allowed to sell £1.25bn of oil every six months to middlemen and companies it selected. The amount of oil allowed to be sold was increased until the cap was removed in December 1999. Despite the name of the programme, it was gradually expanded to cover 24 different sectors, including irrigation, health and agriculture. The oil middlemen made money by selling on the international markets.

Under the system, more than 1,000 companies from dozens of countries applied to deal in Iraqi oil. They had to be vetted by their own governments but critics said the procedure was cursory at best.

John Fawcett, who investigated Saddam's sources of funding for the Coalition for International Justice, said: "We estimated that just on the oil sales side there were $200-$300m in kickbacks. Anybody that you see buying oil from the second half of 2000 and virtually all of 2001, you can assume there was a kickback. The UN oversight was virtually nil. The system is absolutely rotten."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas