Russian spy was setting the price on Saddam's oil for food scam

Times:

A UN official who held a pivotal post in the Oil-for-Food programme for Iraq has been exposed by a defector as a Russian spy who diverted almost half a billion dollars to top Russian officials in “one of the richest heists in world history”.

Alexandre Kramar, who set the price of Iraqi crude as a UN oil overseer from 1996 to 2003, was an undercover agent for Russia's foreign intelligence agency, the SVR, his former handler says.

The revelation throws new light on the UN Oil-for-Food scandal, which implicated dozens of politicians, diplomats and businessmen around the world, as well as the UN official overseeing the programme, and the son of the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

It provides fresh evidence of Russia's complicity in helping Saddam Hussein to circumvent UN sanctions imposed after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The crumbling of the UN embargo, which was designed to prevent Iraq from rebuilding its weapons of mass destruction, was one of the factors behind the US and British decision to go to war in 2003.

Despite Mr Kramar's central importance to the UN programme and longstanding suspicions about his conduct, his covert role as a Russian agent was missed by the UN investigation led by Paul Volcker, a former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve.

Mr Kramar has been unmasked by Sergei Tretyakov, the SVR's deputy station chief in New York from April 1995 until he defected on October 11, 2000.

Mr Tretyakov, who worked as a double-agent for the US for at least three years, tells his story in a book by the intelligence author and former Washington Post reporter Pete Earley, entitled Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War. As deputy station chief, Mr Tretyakov supervised all 60 SVR intelligence agents in Manhattan and oversaw the handling of more than 150 foreign sources working for the Russians.

Planting Mr Kramar in the UN was considered Mr Tretyakov's biggest coup. Earley writes that the UN oil overseer “diverted half a billion dollars from the programme into the pockets of top Russian government leaders in both the Yeltsin and Putin presidencies.

“Neither Yeltsin nor Putin made any effort to stop the thefts,” he adds. “The Putin Administration did, however, arrange for the SVR officer to be awarded one of the Russian Federation's highest civilian commendations, not because of bravery or honour, but for his role in pulling off one of the richest heists in world history.”

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There is much more.

This should also explain the reluctance of the Russians to do anything serious in the way of regime change in Iraq. The new Iraq government should look into canceling any Russian debt by the amount stolen through this program.

This also suggest that Russia has become a mafia state propelled by greed instead of communism.

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