Iraqi Oil-for-Food Lawsuit Collapses

By John Lee.

An Iraqi lawsuit accusing more than 90 companies of conspiring with Saddam Hussein's regime to frustrate the United Nations'  program, and depriving Iraqis of roughly $10 billion of essential aid, has been dismissed by a court in New York.

Reuters reports that U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein said the government of Iraq could not recover damages and other remedies under an anti-racketeering law because most of the wrongful conduct took place in foreign countries.

He also said Iraq failed to allege the companies' conduct was a key reason for the injury, and that laws governing sovereign nations did not let the current government escape responsibility for Hussein's abuses.

"The court rejects Iraq's view that it may sidestep responsibility because the conduct was illegal or the actors held power illegitimately," he wrote.

Defendants in the 2008 lawsuit over the $64.2 billion oil-for-food program included:

  • French bank BNP Paribas, which administered a U.N. escrow account for the program;
  • Swiss engineering company ABB;
  • Dutch chemicals company Akzo Nobel;
  • U.S. oil company Chevron;
  • German automaker Daimler;
  • British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline; and,
  • German electronics company Siemens.

The U.N. program let Iraq sell oil to finance the purchase of food, medicine and other goods for citizens hurt by international trade sanctions.

(Source: Reuters)

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