Oil For Food Scandal: Is UN Damaged Beyond Repair

Andrew Cochran reports,

Rep. Henry Hyde, Chairman of the House International Relations Committee and one of the leaders in the Congressional investigations, has issued a statement saying that the revelations point towards a judgment that “the UN is damaged beyond repair.” He also demands “further details regarding the role of current and former high-ranking UN officials, including former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali.” So now we know the next target.

Inquiry on Food-for-Oil Plan Cites U.N. Diplomat for Conflict (NYT rss)

An interim report by a commission investigating the United Nations oil-for-food program in Iraq said the former head of the program had violated the United Nations Charter by helping a company owned by a friend to obtain valuable contracts to sell Iraqi oil. The conduct of Benon V. Sevan, a Cypriot official who ran the program from 1997 until its demise in 2003, was a “grave and continuing conflict of interest” and had “seriously undermined the integrity of the United Nations,” the report concludes. The 219-page report, issued yesterday by the Independent Inquiry Committee, the United Nations-appointed panel headed by Paul A. Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman, depicts what was the United Nations’ largest relief effort as riddled with political favoritism and mismanagement.

Of course, we’ve known that for well over a year…

U.N. Diplomat Reportedly Sought Iraqi Oil Deals for Egyptian (NYT rss)

Benon V. Sevan, a career United Nations diplomat who headed the oil-for-food program for Iraq, solicited favors from Saddam Hussein’s government on behalf of an Egyptian trader who made more than $1.5 million in profits from his privileged access to Iraqi oil contracts, according to an investigative report released yesterday. The trader, Fakhry Abdelnour, who is based in Geneva, also paid an illegal surcharge of $160,000 to the Iraqis, in violation of the United Nations sanctions against Iraq, while he and Mr. Sevan were lobbying for more business, said the report, which was issued by a United Nations-appointed panel headed by Paul A. Volcker.

In securing the oil contracts for Mr. Abdelnour, Mr. Sevan introduced him into one of the byways of the giant program, one that enriched a small group of traders while pouring money that was meant to buy food and medicine into secret Iraqi slush funds, it said. Through the intercession of Mr. Sevan, the report said, Mr. Abdelnour was put on a list of individuals who received coupons, or allocations, that gave him the right to buy millions of barrels of Iraqi crude oil, starting in 1998.

Cochran has also put together a collection of links to documents on the scandal, which he’s continuing to update. The collection so far:

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.