Russian companies did not break sanctions in Iraq

Russian diplomats told members of a commission investigating alleged abuses of the U.N. oil-for-food program Thursday that Russian companies did not violate sanctions against Iraq while participating in the program, the Foreign Ministry said.

The commission members, led by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, met with Foreign Ministry officials during their third visit to Russia while investigating the scandal-tainted humanitarian program. The other visits occurred late last year.

The Russians told the commission that "our companies, as they have officially informed the Foreign Ministry, acted in strict accordance with (U.N. sanctions against Iraq) and with Russian law," the ministry said in a statement.

Russian companies and individuals were heavily involved in the oil-for-food program, which allowed Saddam Hussein's Iraq to sell oil to pay for humanitarian goods despite the U.N. sanctions imposed on his country after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Investigations have found that Saddam manipulated the program to obtain illegal revenues and try to influence officials and political figures in foreign countries, particularly those with veto power in the U.N. Security Council, such as Russia and France, AP reported.

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