DA calls for probe into Oil for Food report

The Democratic Alliance has called for a judicial investigation into a report handed to then president Thabo Mbeki three years ago detailing the alleged knowledge senior officials had of shady oil deals with Iraq.

The Sunday Times reported that the Donen Commission, set up by Mbeki, found that Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who was ANC secretary general at the time, was privy to “material information” relating to businessman Sandi Majali’s deals with the former Iraqi regime.

According to the newspaper the commission also cast doubt on a submission by businessman Tokyo Sexwale, now human settlements minister, that he did not know that a company of which he was co-director had paid money to Saddam Hussein’s government—in violation of the UN’s Oil for Food programme.

The DA expressed reservations about the newspaper article, saying it was hard to understand the nature of the allegations as it quoted “selectively” from the Donen report, but urged President Jacob Zuma to show the political will to establish the truth.

Party chief whip Ian Davidson said in a statement that Zuma should release the report and then appoint a commission of investigation with more extensive powers.

If any officials were found to have violated the UN agreement, under which all oil revenues were meant to go towards humanitarian purposes, they should be brought to book.

“A commission of investigation into those South African companies implicated in the UN Oil for Food programme needs to be reconstituted. It needs to be chaired by a judge and, importantly, must have the powers of subpoena,” he said.

It is estimated that late Iraqi dictator’s regime made $1,8-billion in surcharges and kickbacks on such deals.

At issue are surcharges on Oil for Food deals the regime demanded be paid into Iraqi government bank accounts, in violation of stipulations that all oil sales revenue go to a UN-supervised account to be used for humanitarian purposes only.

Majali, the chief executive of Mocoh and Imvume Management, was among those believed to have channelled money to the regime. Sexwale is a former co-director of Mocoh and reportedly told the commission he did not know the company was told to pay surcharges on oil deals with Iraq.

The newspaper reported the Donen Commission expressed reservations about his version of events.

Mbeki kept the report under wraps after it was handed to him in late 2006.

He said the government would ‘take the appropriate decisions in due course” and, if anyone had broken the law, this would be ‘taken up by South Africa’s law enforcement agencies”.—Sapa

Oilgate: A timeline
1990
Iraq invades Kuwait.
UN Security Council imposes comprehensive sanctions on Iraq, including lifeblood oil exports

1995
UN approves Oil for Food (OFF) programme to relieve civilian hardship—Iraq allowed to sell oil, with proceeds held in trust by UN and released only for approved humanitarian imports

1996
OFF starts. Over seven years, $64-billion of Iraqi crude traded



 
Timeline

See the infographic


2000
Dec 18-23: Montega Trading (Sandi Majali, Rodney Hemphill and Shakir Alkhafaji) visit Iraq with ANC secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe and treasurer general Mendi Msimang. Montega signs contract to buy 2m barrels of Basrah Light crude oil under OFF

2001
Feb 1: Minerals and Energy DG Sandile Nogxina leads official delegation to Iraq to build relations under OFF

Feb 2: Montega Trading cargo loaded in Iraq. Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organisation (Somo) levies $464 632 “surcharge” on Montega, a kickback illegal under OFF. Montega does not pay

Apr 5: Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) confirms to Majali its interest in buying 9,5m barrels of Iraqi Basrah Light crude from Montega

May 11/12: Imvume Management registered and directors, including Majali, appointed

Jul 30:
Majali offers 6m barrels of Basrah to SFF; alternatively to facilitate direct deal between Iraq and SFF

Sep 5: Imvume obtains UN approval to trade with Iraq

Sep 7: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, then minerals and energy minister, approves travel to Iraq by her DG, Sandile Nogxina, and chief of staff, Ayanda Nkuhlu, to create “right political atmosphere” for SA companies to win business under OFF

Sep 10: Motlanthe writes letter to Iraq endorsing Majali. Msimang also writes

Sep 11-18: Majali, Nkuhlu, Nogxina and SFF director Riaz Jawoodeen, visit Iraq. Majali has proposal for Iraq to allocate 25m barrels of Basrah Light to Imvume each year for 10 years, with ANC a beneficiary. Iraq is asked for sale of “initial” 12m barrels to Imvume to supply SFF

Mid-Oct: Ba’ath party delegation visits SA. Protocol signed between Majali and Iraqi counterpart establishing Iraqi-SA Friendship Association. Speech prepared for Motlanthe says ANC and Ba’ath are true parties behind friendship association, and that ANC is behind the proposal requesting allocation of 25m barrels of crude annually

Nov 9-17: Majali and Motlanthe visit Middle East. Timing consistent with anti-sanctions conference in Baghdad, which Majali said they would attend

Dec 5: SFF issues tender for supply of 4m barrels of Iraqi Basrah Light. SFF director Jawoodeen central to tender adjudication. Imvume wins

2002
Mar 6: SFF and Imvume sign contract: latter to supply initial 2m barrels of Basrah. Majali is in Baghdad, where Somo agrees to allocate 2m barrels to Imvume

Mar 6: SFF and Imvume sign contract: latter to supply initial 2m barrels of Basrah. Majali is in Baghdad, where Somo agrees to allocate 2m barrels to Imvume

Apr 6: Imvume supplies SFF’s 2m barrels via extended supply chain, not from its own Iraqi allocation

May 5-10: Majali and Motlanthe visit Baghdad

May 24: Imvume supplies SFF remaining 2m barrels, again not from Iraqi allocation. Ultimate supplier, a Russian company, pays kickback to Iraq

Jul 3-9: Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz visits SA, hosted by Jacob Zuma. SA slams sanctions. Farewell hosted by ANC, Imvume and Iraqi-SA Friendship Association

Jul 26-Aug 2: Majali, Motlanthe, Msimang in Middle East. Imvume signs contract with Somo to buy 4m barrels of Basrah

Oct 15: Imvume wins R750m tender to supply SA oil parastatal PetroSA with condensate to be sourced internationally

Oct 17 and Dec 13: Imvume lifts 4m barrels of Basrah, traded internationally

2003
Mar: US and UK troops invade Iraq

Dec: PetroSA pays R15m advance to Imvume, which pays R11m to ANC

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