The head of the UEN - Union for Europe of the Nations - group in the European Parliament, Charles Pasqua has denied reports in the French media that he received 12 million barrels of oil from Saddam Hussein as a "gift."
Pasqua's name features on a list published by Al-Mada (the Horizon), an Iraqi newspaper, which details those who received gifts from the former Iraqi dictator. Overall, according to Le Monde, 270 people are mentioned on the list from 40 countries, 17 of which are in Europe. The information was confirmed by Abdel Saheb Salmane Qotob, an official from the Iraqi oil ministry, who also said that the matter would be pursued in court to recuperate the money for the Iraqi people. Pasqua is alleged to have received 12 million barrels of oil, which, at current prices of 35 dollars a barrel, would net the former French minister about 420 million dollars or over half a billion euro. Also on this list are other prominent French figures, including at least two prime ministers and two foreign ministers. Pasqua, who sits on the influential budget commission in the Parliament, has furiously denied the claims. "I have never received anything from Saddam Hussein, neither money, nor oil", he told Le Monde. "I am not and have never been a friend of his." Pasqua protests that he was not one of those who visited Iraq regularly, saying, "There are a certain number of countries that I do not know. Iraq is one of them. Syria is another." Furthermore, he suspects dirty tricks from the "American services." He told Le Figaro, "If they are quoting my name and they know it is not true, this might be to discredit the list ... because perhaps on the list there are the names of people which would be better not getting out. I am just trying to understand, I have no information, I am speculating." Before entering the European Parliament, Pasqua was French interior minister for two spells from 1986-1991 and then again from 1993-1995. His group in the European Parliament has 23 seats, making it the sixth largest. (EUobserver.com)