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Saturday, March 3, 2007

Park sentenced for Oil-for-Food role

Last week, 71 year old Korean businessman, Tongsun Park was sentenced to five years in jail and ordered to forfeit $1.2 million and pay a $15,000 fine for his role in the Oil for Food scandal at the United Nations.

Why, you might ask, is this a topic of concern on a blog that is concerned primarily about Kyoto and issues related to global warming? Well, simply because of Park's well-known association with Canadian businessman Maurice Strong. Yes, the same Maurice Strong who is often referred to as the grand-daddy of the Kyoto Protocol:

THE Kyoto Protocol was the work of thousands of bureaucrats, diplomats and politicians. But no one person is more responsible for it than a Canadian named Maurice Strong.

Strong organized the UN first-world environmental summit in Stockholm in 1972 and has never stopped pressing for a world where UN resolutions would be enforced as law all over the Earth.

Strong went on to chair the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio and to become senior adviser to Kofi Annan, the UN's secretary general. Not bad for a kid from Oak Lake, Manitoba, who dropped out of school at age 14.
He also has strong connections to Power Corporation, owned by Paul Desmarais and to former Prime Minister Paul Martin, who Strong hired when he was head of Power Corp.

So having put this somewhat into context, let's look at what reporter Claudia Rosett has to say about Park's recent sentence:
Park was convicted last summer of conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of Saddam Hussein’s government with the aim of bribing the UN to rig the Oil-for-Food relief program for UN-sanctioned Iraq. But that mouthful does not begin to convey the web of conspiracy and cash that trial witnesses described to the jury, in a tale that included cash in envelopes in Manhattan, cash in shopping bags near Washington, cash picked up in Baghdad, deposited in a Jordanian bank and then delivered in the form of checks to various parties, including one of Kofi Annan’s top advisers and environmental gurus, Maurice Strong — who has denied any wrong-doing. (Here’s a link to my reporter’s notebook blog on Park’s trial).

All told, as summed up by Judge Chin, Saddam’s regime paid Park more than $2.5 million for his efforts in conspiring to bribe a UN official.

Which leaves us with an important mystery. Exactly what — or who — did Saddam and his henchmen think they were getting for their $2.5 million or more in payments to Tongsun Park?
Well, according to Rosett, more than $1 million, including one single installment of $988,885 went to Maurice Strong...
No one at the UN has been accused of taking any bribes via Tongsun Park. The theory among such folks as Volcker’s investigators seems to be that despite Park’s efforts in a conspiracy that went on for years, and despite Park’s receipt of millions from Baghdad for his services, somehow no one at the UN ever took the bribes Park was paid to deliver. Digging deeper into this matter is difficult, because Volcker despite his initial promises to release the underlying documents of his investigation has instead turned them over to the UN’s own legal department, which refuses to release them to the public, or the press.
Read the rest of the Rosett Report.

Further reading on Paul Volcker, who headed the U.N investigation of the Oil-for-Food Program and is also an advisor to Power Corp.
Add up the facts that Power Corp. appears to be connected to an oil company that would benefit extensively if Saddam remained in power, with the bank appointed by the UN to help broker an Oil-for-Food program that appears to have been directly enriching Saddam, and which is being investigated for irregularities that may have abetted the wholesale corruption that eventually engulfed Oil-for-Food, and that Power’s owners have a professional and personal relationship with the man hired by the UN to investigate the corruption, and it'€™s no wonder that more and more questions are being asked about the firm.

Further reading: from Judi McLeod at Canada Free Press, April 22, 2005:
Saddam invested one million dollars in Paul Martin-owned Cordex

The Canadian company that Saddam Hussein invested a million dollars in belonged to the Prime Minister of Canada, has discovered.

Cordex Petroleum Inc., launched with Saddam’s million by Prime Minister Paul Martin’s mentor Maurice Strong’s son Fred Strong, is listed among Martin’s assets to the Federal Ethics committee on November 4, 2003.

(...) Yesterday, Strong admitted that Tongsun Park, the Korean man accused by U.S. federal authorities of illegally acting as an Iraqi agent, invested in Cordex, the company he owned with his son, in 1997.

In that admission, Strong describes Cordex as a Denver-based company. Cordex Petroleum Inc. is listed among Martin’s assets as an Alberta-based company.

(...) Strong’s New Age Baca Ranch is located in Crestone, Colorado.

Indeed, according to Marci McDonald in Walrus Magazine, "Cordex Petroleums was formerly known as Baca Resources." (April 21, 2004).
It's a tangled web indeed. More on Tongsun Park from SDA.
More from the Key Monk.

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