- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 9, 2005

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — DaimlerChrysler AG was asked for a written statement and documents regarding its role in the U.N. oil-for-food program, according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The German-American automaker said in a filing that the SEC had asked for details on any role the company might have had in the scandal-tainted program, set up to govern the sale of Iraqi oil under dictator Saddam Hussein, and to see whether the company had violated any provisions.

“It is our position that we cannot comment,” said DaimlerChrysler spokesman Toni Melfi yesterday. “It is an ongoing investigation.”

Mr. Melfi wouldn’t say whether the documents had been turned over to the SEC yet or to what extent DaimlerChrysler had been involved in the oil-for-food program.

The massive program was launched in 1996 to help Iraqis cope with U.N. sanctions imposed after Saddam’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The program allowed Saddam’s regime to sell oil, provided the proceeds went primarily to buy humanitarian goods and pay war reparations. Saddam purportedly sought to curry favor by giving former government officials, journalists and others vouchers for Iraqi oil that could then be resold at a profit.

In the July 28 filing, DaimlerChrysler said it received the SEC’s request after the commission “supplemented the formal order of investigation to add DaimlerChrysler to the list of named companies. In that regard we received an order from the SEC to provide a written statement and to produce certain documents regarding transactions in that program.”

On Monday, a United Nations-backed committee investigating the program accused its former chief, Benon Sevan, of taking illegal kickbacks and recommended that his immunity from prosecution be lifted.

The Independent Inquiry Committee led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker will issue a final report next month, and will examine the U.N. management of the oil-for-food program.

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