O escândalo "oil for food"

THE UN inquiry into the oil-for-food scandal has concluded that the head of the world organisation's largest humanitarian program took almost $US150,000 (...) in kickbacks, most of it in stacks of $US100 bills.

Benon Sevan was accused of receiving the cash for steering Iraqi oil contracts to a firm run by a brother-in-law and a cousin of Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the former UN chief. The charge of outright corruption came in the latest report by the UN inquiry led by former chairman of the US Federal Reserve Paul Volcker.

The findings rocked the UN, where officials initially dismissed the oil-for-food scandal as a vendetta by right-wing US politicians angered by UN opposition to the war in Iraq.

Mr Volcker's findings suggest that Saddam Hussein's government was successful in effectively bribing the official in charge of the oil-for-food program for the entire six years of its existence.


The money came from oil sales by a Panama-based company, African Middle East Petroleum (AMEP), which was run by Dr Boutros-Ghali's relatives.

But the company was only able to get the contracts -- and pay the kickbacks -- because Iraq had allocated the oil to Mr Sevan.

The report found that Mr Sevan had conspired with AMEP's owner, Fakhry Abdelnour, who is a cousin of Dr Boutros-Ghali, and one of the company's officers, Fred Nadler, the brother of Dr Boutros-Ghali's wife, Leia.


A further report is due early next month on the business dealings of Kojo Annan, the son of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan who succeeded Dr Boutros-Ghali in 1997.

Top UN officials fear for Kofi Annan's job after Mark Pieth, one of the Volcker panel, said that the Annan investigation would have "direct consequences" for the position of the UN chief