Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Two Officials in Oil-for-Food Program Lose UN Immunity

The Independent Inquiry Commission Into the United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme issued its third interim report (here) and identified two senior officials in the Programme who it concluded engaged in criminal wrongdoing.  The report analyzes the role of Benon Sevan, the Executive Director of the UN Office of the Iraq Programme, and Alexander Yakovlev, a UN procurement office, and concludes that they solicited bribes.  The Commission further recommends that the UN waive the immunity that protects each from prosecution.  A statement (here) by the UN chief of staff announced that Secretary-General Annan intends to waive the immunity, and that "[w]ith specific regard to Mr. Sevan, the United Nations is already cooperating with inquiries from the Manhattan District Attorney and is in the process of replying to a request for cooperation from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. With regard to Mr. Yakovlev, the UN's Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) last month contacted the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York to alert them that internal, ongoing investigations of Mr.Yakovlev had turned up prima facie evidence of criminal wrong doing and has shared that evidence with the U.S. Attorney's office."   With the immunity from prosecution gone, look for prosecutors to file charges in the near future against each for his role in a program that was rife with corruption. (ph)

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Corruption, Fraud, Government Reports, International | Permalink

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