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Oil for food, Maurice Strong

Canada's Maurice Strong:
Didn't Know the "Money Was From Iraq"

by Marinka Peschmann, Special to Canada Free Press
Thursday, September 8, 2005

"Although there is circumstantial evidence that [Canada's] Maurice Strong was in a position to know that the money he received from [Tongsun] Park came from Iraq," Paul Volcker’s Independent Inquiry into the United Nation's Oil-for-Food program "has not found any direct evidence that Mr. Strong knew the money was from Iraq."

The "money from Iraq," that traveled from Baghdad to Canada, "$1 million in a cardboard box" was given to Tongsun Park's by Saddam Hussein's former deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, according to the Volcker document released on Wednesday. In addition to the $1 million, Saddam’s top aid, Aziz, who has been in U.S. custody since April 2003, provided Park with an "escort" to safely accompany him out of Iraq into Amman Jordan." 

In Jordan, "with assistance from an expatriate Iraqi citizen," Park "converted" the cash that was "wrapped in $10,000 bundles" into a "bank check" and deposited it into a newly opened Jordanian bank account.

"On the same day, when [Park's] account was opened, [July 30, 1997] the bank issued a check from his account in the amount of $988,885, made payable to Canada's "Mr. M. Strong," an investment from Park to Strong, to buy into the Canadian energy company, Cordex Petroleum Inc. Cordex was "controlled by [Strong] through his family's holding company, Strovest Holdings Inc." and is now bankrupt.

Korean businessman, Tongsun Park, first met with Maurice Strong "in Canada in late 1995 or 1996 through a common acquaintance," states the Volcker document. Today Park faces criminal charges in U.S. courts for allegedly working as a "lobbyist," and according to CNN, for trying "to influence UN officials while disguising his relationship with the Iraqi regime. Park is believed to be at large in South Korea."

Maurice Strong, Prime Minister Paul Martin's mentor, has an "extensive background in the Canadian energy business and the Government of Canada." Strong who has been apart of the UN family since the early 1970s and served under Kofi Annan, in part, as Annan’s "Senior Advisor on Reform" is no longer at the United Nations.

Strong claims he did not "recall receiving the check from Mr. Park," in the Volcker document, but "when he was recently shown the check, [Strong] recognized his signature on the endorsement."

There is a second certified check dated "September 14, 1997" from Park made payable to Strong in the amount of $30,000 Strong also cannot "recall."

Former Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Reid Morden, and current "Executive Director" of the Volcker inquiry "recused himself of any involvement" into the Strong-Park relationship investigation because of what could be perceived as a possible conflict of interest.

On October 16, 1996, Reid Morden wrote a letter to Maurice Strong and Tongsun Park "requesting on behalf" of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited [AECL] for "the support of Mr. Park and Mr. Strong for the sale of "Candu 9" nuclear reactors during their upcoming meeting in Korea with Korean leaders."

Reid, who was "employed from 1994 to 1998 as President and Chief Executive Officer" of AECL, "a company owed by the Canadian government" could not be reached for comment. The Canadian government will not investigate the more than $100 billion Oil-for-Food program that operated for seven years. As CFP previously reported Canada is the seventh largest donor to the United Nations.

Marinka Peschmann is a freelance writer whose first book collaboration, the best-selling The Kid Stays In The Picture; was made into a documentary. She's contributed to several books and stories ranging from showbiz and celebrities to true crime and politics.