News and Information

Namibia denies using secret oil vouchers from Saddam
October 11, 2004

THE Namibian Government has dismissed a report that last week claimed that it bought about seven million barrels of crude oil from Iraq, violating United Nations sanctions against that country at the time.

A report released by the Iraq Survey Group on Wednesday named Namibia, Russia, France, China, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Egypt as countries to which former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein issued secret vouchers for the purchase of oil.

In addition, five Namibian companies bought about seven million barrels of oil from Iraq, according to the report.

The introduction of the UN's Oil-for-Food programme in late 1996 was a turning point for the Hussein regime.

It allowed limited oil sales to pay for humanitarian goods and rescued the Iraqi economy from a terminal decline created by sanctions.

Acting Mines and Energy Permanent Secretary Hannu Shipena said on Friday that he was not familiar with the report.

But he said the Namibian Government did not import oil as a single entity.

Only local petroleum companies imported oil.

"I am not aware of any violations by Namibian companies [in importing oil]," he said.

Shipena said at least 90 per cent of Namibia's refined oil imports came from South Africa, while private petroleum companies were permitted to buy oil from any country from which they obtained legal permission to do so.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Nangolo Mbumba was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that Government had never received vouchers from Hussein, nor purchased any oil from him.

"We never had any connection to Saddam Hussein.

My President has condemned Saddam Hussein," he told AP.

According to the report, compiled by the head of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, the Hussein regime recognised that the Oil-for-Food programme could be corrupted to acquire foreign exchange with massive kickbacks to the Iraqi government.

The report estimates that Saddam generated US$10,9 billion in hard currency through illicit means between 1990 and 2003.

The Ministry of Oil controlled the oil voucher distribution programme that used oil to influence UN members to support 's goals of acquiring goods prohibited by sanctions.

"Saddam personally approved and removed all names of voucher recipients.

He made all modifications to the list, adding or deleting names at will," the report reads in part.

Other senior Iraqi leaders could nominate or recommend that an individual or organisation be added or subtracted from the voucher list, and ad hoc allocation committees met to review and update the allocations.


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