Monday, August 08, 2005

FIRST HEADS rolling:
One of the targets U.N. Oil-for Food investigation, Alexander Yakovlev (search), was stripped of his diplomatic immunity Monday and taken into custody by federal authorities, a U.N. spokesman announced Monday.

The U.S. attorney's office took Yakovlev into custody hours after Paul Volcker (search), the man in charge of the U.N.-approved probe into Oil-for-Food, fingered Yakovlev as one of two main U.N. officials involved in the program's corruption.
On Sevan:
The report also accuses Benon Sevan (search), the one-time head of the Oil-for-Food program who severed his ties with the United Nations on Sunday, of taking kickbacks under the multi-billion dollar humanitarian operation aimed at easing the effects of sanctions on Iraqi civilians.

Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman, also said in releasing the report that Sevan should also lose his diplomatic immunity so he can be prosecuted for alleged crimes.

For the first time, the report gave a motive for Sevan's actions, saying his finances were "precarious" shortly before his alleged misdeeds.

Some critics have accused the United Nations of squandering millions -- and even billions -- of dollars in its mismanagement of the program. Yet Volcker's team found that Sevan appeared to have received kickbacks of just $147,184 from December 1998 to January 2002.

Volcker said Sevan had not responded to the IIC's efforts to contact him to get possible alternative explanations for that money.

[...] On Thursday, Sevan's lawyer Eric Lewis said the committee would find in its upcoming report that Sevan got kickbacks for steering contracts under Oil-for-Food to a small trading company called African Middle East Petroleum Co. Ltd. Inc. Lewis said it would also accuse Sevan of failing to cooperate with the investigation.

The report largely confirmed that, but went further. It described how Sevan and his wife repeatedly had overdrawn their bank accounts before Sevan first sought to steer oil allocations to AMEP.

It also found that two men helped Sevan: Fred Nadler, an AMEP director and brother-in-law of former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali; and Fakhry Abdelnour, the president of AMEP.

Volcker's team recommended that the United Nations assist in their possible prosecution as well.
And now the best part:
The report, which Volcker said was intended to tie up some "loose ends" in his panel's investigation, touched on topics other than Sevan. It dealt briefly with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his son, Kojo, and said more would be discussed in the committee's final report, expected in September.
(my emph)

Can't wait for that. Oh, and I hope they start soon with the international ramifications of the scandal...

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