Iraq to Obtain Rest of Oil-for-Food Funds by End of the Year, UN Official Says

The Iraqi Government has a “realistic” plan to take full ownership by the end of this year of a fund administering proceeds from export sales of petroleum under the now defunct Oil-for-Food Programme, a top United Nations budget official told the Security Council today.

“Once all the outstanding activities under the Oil-For-Food Programme are concluded, and taking into account issues mentioned by the Secretary-General’s report circulated to the Council members, all other remaining funds should be transferred from the Iraqi Escrow Account to the DFI [Development Fund for Iraq],” said UN Controller Jun Yamazaki to Council members as he presented the latest report on the issue by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Development Fund for Iraq was established in 2003, the same year the Security Council phased out the Oil-for-Food Programme, which allowed the sanctions-bound government of Saddam Hussein to use some monitored oil sales revenue for humanitarian purchases.

In 2003, proceeds from petroleum sales, along with the balance of the Oil-for-Food funds put under escrow and some frozen assets, were slowly transferred to the Development Fund for Iraq, overseen by the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB).

As of the end of 2008, the fund had received nearly $180 billion, according to a 2009 report by Mr. Ban.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki asked the Security Council last year to extend the fund until December 2010, at which time Iraqi officials would take over.

“The action plan and timeline as presented by the Government of Iraq is realistic and I am pleased the Government of Iraq plans to select an independent international auditor to confirm that all proceeds of export sales of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas from Iraq are accounted for,” Mr. Yamazaki said today.

At the same time, he added, work remains to be done to fully implement the action plan as presented by Iraq for the transition to successor arrangements for the fund.

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