Scania dodged UN sanctions in Iraq

Swedish government agencies allowed truck maker Scania to ignore United Nations sanctions in order to sell buses and trucks in Iraq in the early 2000s, Sveriges Radio reports.

Scania carried out the sales using a Russian company as a front because, according to an internal memo, the Iraqis had started demanding illegal commissions from everyone who wanted to sell to them.

“It is one way to go around the sanction provisions decided upon by the UN,” said prosecutor Nils-Eric Schultz, who is investigating the company for possible sanctions violations.

Initially the company saw the illegal commissions as a reason to stop selling to Iraq, but after nothing was done and its competitors continued to do business in Iraq, Scania decided to look for other solutions.

Formally, Scania sold 17 trucks and 125 buses to a Russian company, but in reality the vehicles were heading straight to Iraq.

The arrangement put the burden of paying any Iraqi commissions on the shoulders of the front company.

According to Scania memo, plans for using a front to export to Iraq were drawn up together with officials from Sweden’s foreign ministry and the government’s National Board of Trade (Kommerskollegium).

When asked by Sveriges Radio, officials from both agencies denied having any knowledge of the arrangement.

“It makes me a little upset that there are public servants who gave advice based on going around sanctions that the UN had put in place; I mean, it shows a total lack of respect for the United Nations as an institution,” said Schultz.

Sveriges Radio also reports that both the UN and the foreign ministry had received information about the illegal Iraqi commissions but did nothing about the matter.

Iraq was put under UN sanctions from the time of the first Gulf War in the early 1990s up until the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.