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‘F’ stamp on Natwar in Volcker report

New York, Nov. 10: The Volcker committee, which investigated the $60-billion oil-for-food scam in Iraq, did not get any response in its efforts to clarify the deals involving former external affairs minister Natwar Singh or the Congress Party before the UN-appointed panel published its report here last month.

Volcker committee sources told The Telegraph that the letter “F” in the last column of Table 1 of the inquiry panel’s final report was an unequivocal indication that further details were sought regarding five million barrels of oil allocated in three separate contracts to the Swiss company, Masefield AG, listing Singh and the Congress Party as non-contractual beneficiaries. This also indicated that there was no response.

These sources said the procedure followed by Volcker’s staff was to send a letter to the contracting company, in this case Masefield AG, for a response. This was easier because many of the companies were well known and could be easily be traced for purposes of communication.

Copies of the letter were simultaneously sent to the non-contractual beneficiaries, many of whom were little-known organisations or obscure personalities, about whom there was virtually no information outside their countries.

Following the meeting this week between Volcker and India’s permanent representative to the UN, Nirupam Sen, the inquiry committee is once again delving into its archives to make doubly sure that a response was, indeed, sought from Masefield AG, Singh and the Congress Party.

Volcker said last week that he did not know who Singh was until his attention was drawn to the political storm in India.

There is speculation here that any letter from the panel regarding Singh’s involvement would have gone to the AICC as the basis for allocating oil to him was his membership of the Congress, according to Iraqi documents on the Masefield contracts.

Copies of letters to Masefield AG relating to deals in which the Congress was named as a non-contractual beneficiary would also have gone to the AICC office.

Sources associated with the Volcker panel said there was excessive emphasis in India on Table 3 of the panel’s final report listing the summary of oil sales by non-contractual beneficiaries.

While the committee is unwilling to get into a slanging match or arguments with its detractors in India, it was pointed out that no one in Delhi had even referred to Table 1, which lists responses to the committee’s efforts to get reactions from contracting companies and others.

In Table 1, the deals listing Singh and the Congress are clubbed together, ostensibly because Masefield AG is the contracting company for both allocations.

Inquiry authority, Page 8

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