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."

Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

1st line call logger/ User access administrator

£9 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Warrington a...

Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star