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Monday, August 08, 2005

No surprise..


The former head of the U.N. oil-for-food program, Benon Sevan, was accused on Monday of getting nearly $150,000 in kickbacks funneled to him by a relative of former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. The U.N.-established Independent Inquiry Committee, headed by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, recommended U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan waive immunity for 'purposes of a criminal investigation' of Sevan. But Sevan, who has denied any wrongdoing, resigned from the United Nations on Sunday, which automatically lifts his immunity. In its third interim report, the panel also accused a U.N. purchasing officer, Alexander Yakovlev, of soliciting a bribe from a contractor that did business with the now-defunct $67 billion U.N. humanitarian program for Iraq. According to the inquiry, Sevan worked with a cousin of Boutros-Ghali, Egyptian Fakhry Abdelnour, who owned a small trading firm, called African Middle East Petroleum (AMEP). This firm transferred $580,000 to the account of Fred Nadler, the brother of Boutros-Ghali's wife Leia. Of this amount, Nadler then deposited in cash $147,184 to the New York bank accounts of Sevan and his wife.
It has seemed pretty obvious to me for a while now that Sevan was involved in the Oil-for-Food corruption. Sevan of course is also a close ally of Kofi Annan, and there are certainly indications that Annan may also be involved in this scandal as well. Whether any evidence of that will be produced by Volcker's commission remains to be seen.


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