Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Chevron Admits Saddam Kickbacks

By Cernig

You knew that it wasn't just foreigners. The New York Times today reports that U.S. oil giant Chevron is admitting at least some culpability.
Chevron, the second-largest American oil company, is preparing to acknowledge that it should have known kickbacks were being paid to Saddam Hussein on oil it bought from Iraq as part of a defunct United Nations program, according to investigators.

The admission is part of a settlement being negotiated with United States prosecutors and includes fines totaling $25 million to $30 million, according to the investigators, who declined to be identified because the settlement was not yet public.

The penalty, which is still being negotiated, would be the largest so far in the United States in connection with investigations of companies involved in the oil-for-food scandal.

...A report released in 2004 by an investigator at the Central Intelligence Agency listed five American companies that bought oil through the program: the Coastal Corporation, a subsidiary of El Paso; Chevron; Texaco; BayOil, and Mobil, now part of Exxon Mobil. The companies have denied any wrongdoing and said they were cooperating with the investigations.

As part of the deal under negotiation, Chevron, which now owns Texaco, is not expected to admit to violating the U.N. sanctions. But Chevron is expected to acknowledge that it should have been aware that illegal kickbacks were being paid to Iraq on the oil, the investigators said.

The fine is connected to the payment of about $20 million in surcharges on tens of millions of barrels of Iraqi oil bought by Chevron from 2000 to 2002, investigators said.

These payments were made by small oil traders that sold oil to Chevron. But records found by United Nations, American and Italian officials showed that they were financed by Chevron.
The NYT also notes, very briefly:
At the time, Condoleezza Rice, now secretary of state, was a member of Chevron’s board and led its public policy committee, which oversaw areas of potential political concerns for the company.

...According to Chevron’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings, the public policy committee met three times in the course of 2000. Chevron declined to comment about the private deliberations of its board.

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