WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- A federal grand-jury is investigating pardoned financier Marc Rich's role in the U.N. oil-for-food scandal, the Washington Times said Friday.
Quoting unnamed sources, the Times said the panel is looking at whether Rich helped Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein reward the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.
Law-enforcement authorities and congressional investigators said the grand jury wants to know whether cash funneled to Saddam by oil traders -- including Rich -- to help arrange multimillion-dollar Iraqi oil deals for political leaders and well-heeled investors was used by the now-deposed dictator to pay the bombers' families.
"Can we legitimately speculate that some of the blood money Saddam paid to kill people in Israel may have originated or at least been touched by Marc Rich through the United Nations' dreadful oil-for-food program?" a source close to the investigation asked. "We know Saddam Hussein was getting a rake off from the U.N. program and Rich was in the middle of that."
The inquiry centers on whether Rich, pardoned by President Clinton on his last day in office in a $48 million income-tax-evasion case, brokered millions of dollars in deals between Saddam and other traders as part of the oil-for-food scandal.