Feature

Saddam’s billions

The week's news at a glance.

New York

U.S. senators this week accused the United Nations of blocking their investigation of corruption in the Iraq oil-for-food program. From 1996 to 2003, the U.N. let Saddam Hussein sell oil despite economic sanctions imposed on his regime. He was supposed to use the proceeds to buy food and other essentials for ordinary Iraqis, but investigators believe he bribed U.N. officials to look the other way as he took much of the cash to build palaces and buy weapons. After examining documents, the investigators now believe Saddam siphoned off more than $21 billion—twice as much as was originally estimated. Leading Senate investigators accused Secretary-General Kofi Annan of withholding internal U.N. documents they need to get to the bottom of the scandal. A spokesman said Annan would look into that “troubling” complaint.

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