Friday, April 30, 2004

Least Mysterious Development Ever

Via Glenn Reynolds, I came across this story; frankly, the real shocker here is that anyone should have expected something different to transpire.

April 29, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - The vast majority of the United Nations' oil-for-food contracts in Iraq have mysteriously vanished, crippling investigators trying to uncover fraud in the program, a government report charged yesterday.

The General Accounting Office report, presented at a congressional hearing into the scandal-plagued program, determined that 80 percent of U.N. records had not been turned over.

The world body claims it transferred all information it had - including 3,059 contracts worth about $6.2 billion for delivery of food and other civilian goods to the post-Saddam governing body, the Coalition Provisional Authority.

But the GAO report also found that a database the U.N. transferred to the authority was "unreliable because it contained mathematical and currency errors in calculation of contract costs," the report found.

The GAO findings, which were aired at a hearing of the House International Relations Committee, raise new questions about corruption and mismanagement in the biggest-ever U.N. aid program - and what has been called the biggest financial scandal in history. An earlier GAO report said Saddam ripped off over $10 billion.

The "biggest financial scandal" bit only holds if we dismiss all cases of corruption within the constituent members of the UN, as I can rattle off the top of my head more than a dozen countries in Africa and Asia where that figure has been outdone several times over. Still, there can be no doubt that the United Nations is a deeply rotten organization, as is only to be expected of any body the majority of whose membership consists of kleptocrats and strongmen ruling tinpot kingdoms and banana republics.