PARIS – A French court has cleared 14 companies accused of bribing the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein in exchange for contracts as part of the U.N. oil-for-food program.
French companies, including Renault Trucks, Schneider Electric and Legrand, and several managers were acquitted on Thursday of bribery, corruption and misuse of company assets. It was the second trial involving allegations that companies circumvented the embargo imposed on Saddam's government from 1990-2000.
A 2013 trial involving other French companies, including oil conglomerate Total, also ended in acquittal.
In both cases, lawyers successfully argued that no individuals profited from the Iraqi practice of overcharging by 10 percent, then skimming that money off the top for its own government reserves.
The U.N. program was intended to ease the humanitarian consequences of the embargo.