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WebMemo #892 on International Organizations

October 25, 2005

George Galloway and the Oil-for-Food Scandal: Time for U.S. and British Inquiries

By

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) today unveiled new evidence on British Member of Parliament George Galloway's involvement in the Iraqi Oil-for-Food scandal.[1] This latest report is a direct response to Mr. Galloway's testimony before the subcommittee on May 17, 2005. Galloway then firmly denied soliciting or receiving allocations of Iraqi crude oil from Saddam Hussein's regime, but the new evidence indicates otherwise.[2] The Senate report lays the groundwork for criminal investigation, and perhaps prosecution, in both the U.S. and the UK.

 

PSI's new evidence raises major questions about Galloway's close relationship with the Baathist regime and his alleged attempts to raise funds in Iraq to further his political causes in Britain. The report emphatically refutes Galloway's Senate testimony and concludes that Galloway lied under oath-a serious offence that could result in criminal prosecution under the Federal False Statements Statute.

 

The serious nature of the allegations merits a reopening of the investigation into Galloway's activities by the UK Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, as well as an independent British judicial inquiry into the involvement of UK politicians and businessmen in the Oil-for-Food scandal. In addition, the U.S. Department of Justice should conduct its own investigation into Galloway's ties to officials in Saddam Hussein's regime as part of its broader Oil for Food inquiry.

 

The Evidence

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation's Oil for Food investigation was launched in April 2004 and has interviewed scores of witnesses and reviewed several hundred thousand documents. The PSI is a bipartisan committee chaired by Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), and its ranking minority-party member is Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). It has held three hearings so far and issued four reports on the Oil-for-Food scandal.

 

The evidence for the PSI's latest report was drawn from several sources:

 

  • Banking records, including bank account information and wire transfer data, from several financial institutions "establishing that Fawaz Zureikat, a Jordanian businessman and close friend of Galloway, received money in connection with an oil allocation under the Oil for Food Program and transferred a significant portion of that money to Galloway's wife and Galloway's political campaign, the Mariam appeal;"
     
  • Documents created by senior Iraqi officials and the Iraqi Ministry of Oil under Saddam Hussein;
  • Documents created by the Iraqi Ministry of Oil after the fall of Saddam Hussein;
     
  • Subcommittee interviews with senior officials of the Hussein regime, including Tariq Aziz, former Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Taha Yasin Ramadan, former Vice President of Iraq, and Amer Rashid, the former Minister of Oil;
     
  • U.S. Treasury Iraqi Financial Asset Team interviews with Hussein regime officials; and
     
  • Interviews with experienced oil traders involved in the purchase of Iraqi crude oil under the Oil-for-Food Program.

The Key Findings

  • "Galloway personally solicited and was granted oil allocations from the Government of Iraq during the reign of Saddam Hussein. The Hussein regime granted Galloway and the Mariam Appeal eight allocations totaling 23 million barrels from 1999 through 2003."
     
  • "Galloway's wife, Dr. Amineh Abu-Zayyad, received approximately $150,000 in connection with one of those oil allocations."
     
  • "Galloway's political campaign, the Mariam Appeal, received at least $446,000 in connection with the oil allocations granted to Galloway and the Mariam Appeal under the Oil-for-Food Program."
     
  • "The Hussein regime received improper 'surcharge' payments amounting to $1,642,000.65 in connection with the oil allocations granted to Galloway and the Mariam appeal."
     
  • "Galloway knowingly made false or misleading statements under oath before the Subcommittee at its hearing on May 17, 2005."

George Galloway and Iraq

The Senate report should be viewed against the backdrop of George Galloway's long and extensive engagement with pre-liberation Iraq and Saddam Hussein's regime. In the final ten years of the Baathist dictatorship, Galloway visited Iraq more than 20 times, meeting with Tariq Aziz on at least 13 occasions. The Iraqi government was under UN sanction for this entire period and was actively engaged killing or torturing its political and ethnic opponents. Galloway was given extraordinary access to key leaders in the Iraqi regime, and on a 1994 trip to Baghdad famously greeted Saddam Hussein with the words, "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability."[3]

 



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Galloway was a vocal critic of the Iraq war, vigorously opposing U.S. and British military action to liberate the Iraqi people. He was expelled from the Labour Party in October 2003, after accusing British forces in a May 2003 interview of attacking Iraq "like wolves." In the interview, with Abu Dhabi television, Galloway praised the "resistance by the Iraqi forces and Iraqi people who are defending their dignity, religion and country… this is the beginning of a long war of liberation to be staged by the Iraqis against the occupying forces."[4]

 

Galloway set up his own political party, Respect, and was returned to Parliament in May 2005 on a fiercely anti-war ticket. Galloway has continued to court controversy since. He blames Prime Minister Tony Blair for the July 7 London bombings, stating that "people in Iraq and London are paying a blood price for Blair's special relationship with Bush."[5] He has also continued to make inflammatory remarks about Iraq, prompting outrage in the UK.

 

In a series of interviews with Arab television stations in August, Galloway expressed his support for the insurgency in Iraq, stating that "the biggest terrorists are Bush and Blair." In a tribute to the insurgents who are engaged in killing Iraqi civilians as well as U.S. and British forces, Galloway declared,

 

[T]hey decided, when the foreign invaders came, to defend their country, to defend their honour, to defend their families, their religion, their way of life from a military superpower which landed amongst them. And they are winning the war. America is losing the war and even the Americans now admit it. The resistance is getting stronger every day and the will to remain as an occupier by Britain and America is getting weaker every day. Therefore it can be said that the Iraqi resistance is not just defending Iraq. They are defending all the Arabs and they are defending all the people of the world from American hegemony.[6]

 

Recommendations for the U.S. and UK

The Senate Subcommittee's findings merit extensive investigation by U.S. and British government authorities:

 

  • A U.S. Justice Department Investigation. George Galloway should be part of the larger DOJ Oil for Food investigation, which has already resulted in several indictments. In addition, federal prosecutors should examine whether Galloway perjured himself in his testimony before the U.S. Senate. Galloway may have violated three statutes under Title 18 of the United States Code:Section 1001 (false statements), Section 1505 (obstruction of justice), and Section 1621 (perjury). Each offence carries up to five years' imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
     
  • A British Parliamentary Inquiry. In light of the latest Senate findings, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Sir Philip Mawer, should reopen his inquiry into the allegations against George Galloway. While under investigation, Mr. Galloway should step down as Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow. In addition, the UK Charities Commission should re-investigate Galloway's charity, the Mariam Appeal.
     
  • A British Judicial Inquiry. The British government should appoint an independent judicial inquiry into allegations against British politicians and businessmen implicated in the Oil-for-Food scandal. The inquiry should closely scrutinize the findings of the Senate investigations and the UN-appointed Independent Committee of Inquiry (IIC). Prosecutors in Paris have already set a good precedent, charging several French officials with corruption and bribery relating to the scandal.

Conclusion

The Senate inquiry into the activities of George Galloway is the most extensive investigation into a political figure implicated in the Oil-for-Food scandal conducted so far. It may well serve as a role model for further congressional inquiries into politicians with close ties to the former Iraqi regime.

 

The case presented against Mr. Galloway, based upon exhaustive evidence, is both compelling and disturbing. A British politician stands accused of collaborating with one of the most vile and brutal tyrannies in modern history, allegedly in return for financial support for his political campaigns. This is a scandal that besmirches the reputation of the House of Commons and demands a full parliamentary inquiry. It is also a scandal that deserves to be thoroughly investigated by both British and American prosecutors, who owe it to the people of Iraq to ensure that justice is served.

 

Nile Gardiner, Ph.D., is Bernard and Barbara Lomas Fellow in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom in the Shelby and Kathryn Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Heritage intern Matt Rooney assisted with research for this paper.



[1] United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Report Concerning the Testimony of George Galloway Before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, October 25, 2005.

 

[2] George Galloway MP, Testimony before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, May 17, 2005, at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-1616578,00.html

 

[3]"Baghdad Radio Broadcasts Remarks by George Galloway MP at Meeting with Saddam", BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, January 21, 1994.

 

[4] George Galloway, Interview with Abu Dhabi TV, March 29, 2003. BBC Worldwide Monitoring.

 

[5] "I Was Right to Blame Blair, Says Galloway," BBC News Online, July 8 2005, at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/4664343.stm

 

[6] Quoted by Tim Butcher, "Galloway Pours Petrol on the Flames," The Daily Telegraph, August 5, 2005, at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/
main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/08/05/wgall05.xml

 

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