Volcker report accuses Oil-for-Food director of fraud

A third interim report from the Paul Volcker panel into the United Nations
Oil-for-Food scandal has bluntly accused its former director of receiving bribes
linked to his job worth US$147,184 from 1998-2002.

The former US Federal Reserve chairman’s independent inquiry has recommended
UN secretary general Kofi Annan lift the diplomatic immunity currently
protecting Benon Sevan from criminal investigations.

Furthermore, Volker’s investigators found that Sevan’s intrigues involved a
brother-in-law of former UN secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Efraim
(Fred) Nadler.

A Sevan-associated company African Middle East Petroleum (AMEP) lifted 7.3
million barrels of Iraqi oil under the programme, generating US$1.5 million in
revenue, of which a third (US$580,000) was paid to an account controlled by

‘Nearly US$150,00 of this amount was deposited by… cash deposits to the New
York bank accounts of Mr Sevan’ (and his wife), said the interim report.

The Greek Cypriot, however, wrote to Annan this weekend saying: ‘The charges
are false and you, who have known me all these years, should know they are

Whether he faces criminal charges largely depends on the Cypriot authorities,
but another Oil-for-Food official named in this latest report, already has:
Alexander Yakovlev, a Russian former UN procurement officer.

Volkler’s report claims since 2000, ‘almost US$1.3 million’ has been wired
into an Antiguan account controlled by him ‘from UN contractors in other UN

He also helped ‘solicit a bribe’ from a company bidding for an oil inspection
contract under Oil-for-Food in 1996. Yakovlev was arrested yesterday after US
federal prosecutors persuaded Annan to lift his diplomatic immunity; they claim
he admits charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering.

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