George Galloway has always denied taking money from Saddam Hussein’s regime to fund his anti-sanctions campaign and even swore on oath to the US senate and a British court to that effect.
After a major investigation the Charities Commission begs to differ:
George Galloway’s campaign against Iraq sanctions was bankrolled using aid diverted by Saddam Hussein’s regime and the MP may have known about the illicit funding, the Charity Commission says today.
The commission spent more than a year studying financial records and Iraqi Oil Ministry documents and interviewing oil market sources.
Expect more legal trouble for the Respect Party leader in future:
The report opens the door for the Iraqi Government to sue the appeal’s trustees, including the MP, to return $376,000 (£188,000) of diverted aid. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is still investigating a complaint that Mr Galloway received money from Saddam under the Oil-for-Food programme.
Gorgeous George tried unsuccessfully to impugn the Commission findings by arguing that he had not been given the opportunity to tell his side of the story:
Mr Galloway said that the commission had “not bothered to interview me”, but a commission spokeswoman said that he had declined to meet it.
It’s all starting to unravel…
tim adds the following guest comment
The Commission’s Report in some ways tells us nothing new. We know about the Iraqi regime’s corruption of the Oil for Food Programme and how money was transferred from the relief programme to corrupt politicians, companies and middlemen, rather than applied to the relief of the basic needs of the Iraqi population.
Reiterating the “illicit” status of the funds paid into the Mariam Appeal, it in effect accuses Galloway of using money stolen from the Iraqi people and laundered through the agent Galloway appointed, Fawaz Zureikat
Nothing new there.
It also accuses Galloway and the other trustees of not being “vigilant” before accepting payments from Mr Zureikat. To the best of my knowledge this is the only time in thirty years that the words “Galloway”, “vigilant” and “payments” have occurred in the same sentence and will come as a surprise to no one.
What is surprising, however, is that after taking into account all the evidence, including Galloways continuing denials it concludes:
The Commission is also concerned, having considered the totality of evidence before it, that Mr Galloway may also have known of the connection between the appeal and the programme.
Now, let’s contrast this with the evidence that Galloway gave to the Senate Committee.
The testimony of Galloway before the Senate is often seen as a bravura theatrica performance where George put one over on those trying to discredit an opponent of the Iraq war. But one exchange with the Chairman is often overlooked. After numerous attempts to pin Galloway down on whether he knew whether Zureikat was participating in the oil programme, this exchange takes place:
Sen. Coleman: So Mr. Galloway, you would have this Committee believe that your designated representative from the Mariam’s appeal becomes the chair of the Mariam’s appeal, was listed in Iraqi documents as obviously doing business, oil deals with Iraq, that you never had a conversation with him in 2001 or whether he was doing oil business with Iraq.
Galloway: No, I’m doing better than that. I’m telling you that I knew that he was doing a vast amount of business with Iraq. Much bigger, as I said a couple of answers ago, than any oil business he did. In the airports he was the representative of some of the world’s biggest companies in Iraq. He was an extremely wealthy businessman doing very extensive business in Iraq.
Not only did I know that, but I told everyone about it. I emblazoned it in our literature, on our web site, precisely so that people like you could not later credibly question my bonafides in that regard. So I did better than that.
I never asked him if he was trading in oil. I knew he was a big trader with Iraq, and I told everybody about it.
Sen. Coleman: so in 2003, when you said you didn’t know whether he was doing oil deals, were you telling the truth at that time?
Galloway: Yes, I was. I’ve never known until the Telegraph story appeared that he was alleged to be doing oil deals.
The Charity Commission report implies that Galloway may have been committing perjury .
Ironically while George was discussing eviction from another house on channel4 last night Galloways spokesman Ron McKay was telling the press that the Galloway held the Commission in “contempt” and that it was all “smears”.
Of course, on the day Zureikat made the largest oil payment into the Mariam Appeal, the evidence indicates that he also made a payment to Galloway’s wife, and strangely, one to the personal account of a Mr Ron McKay.