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Oil-for-food program: The investigation
CBC News Online | October 24, 2005
In April of 2004, the UN set up an independent commission to investigate the mismanagement and corruption that infected the oil-for-food program and nominated former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker to lead it. The results of the investigation, outlined in three published reports, have led to criminal prosecution of top UN officials who were involved in the oil-for-food program and undermined the reputation of the entire organization.
The concurrent U.S. inquiry into the scandal has led to accusations against high profile politicians in Britain, the U.S. and Russia. The Senate investigation team, led by Republican Senator Normal Coleman, has been accused of bias against the UN and of using the inquiry to divert attention from the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the problems of stabilizing the country.
Here are the findings of the ongoing investigation to date.
Sept. 7, 2005:
Definitive Volcker report. (pdf documents: Vol. I, Vol. II, Vol. III, Vol. IV)
The final report from the Independent Inquiry Committee finds instances of "illicit, unethical and corrupt" behaviour in the oil-for-food program. The inquiry concludes that sweeping reforms are urgently needed in the UN. It also blames UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for mismanagement of the program. The UN's lack of control and auditing of the program allowed Saddam Hussein to corrupt it for personal gain, the inquiry finds. "It was � a compact with the devil, and the devil had means for manipulating the program to his ends," says lead investigator Paul Volcker.
Aug. 8, 2005:
Third interim report by UN-appointed Independent Inquiry Committee (pdf)
The former head of the program, Benon Sevan, is accused of corruption amounting to nearly $150,000 in profit. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says that as soon as he has an official legal request he will waive Sevan's diplomatic immunity so that criminal prosecution can take place. Former senior UN procurement officer Alexander Yakovlev, who according to the committee accepted nearly $1 million in kickbacks unrelated to the oil-for-food program, pleads guilty to the charges in the parallel criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York. Annan had lifted Yakovlev's immunity earlier.
May 16, 2005:
U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (pdf)
Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky is named among others who received millions of dollars in oil allocations from Saddam Hussein's government. He and members of his political party deny the charges.
May 12, 2005:
U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
British MP George Galloway and former French interior minister Charles Pasqua are accused of making illegal profit from the oil-for-food program. Both men deny the allegations and claim that the investigation is politically motivated.
March 28, 2005:
Second interim report by UN-appointed Independent Inquiry Committee (pdf)
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is cleared of personal wrongdoing in contract allocation under the oil-for-food program but criticized for not managing it more effectively. His son, Kojo Annan, who worked for the Swiss company that won the contract bid, is accused of misleading his father and the investigators.
Feb. 3, 2005:
First interim report by the UN-appointed Independent Inquiry Committee (pdf)
Former head of the oil-for-food program Benon Sevan is accused of lobbying the Saddam Hussein government on behalf of a small oil company. Investigators continue their work to establish whether Sevan made a profit.