JANUARY 17, 2007
Years after various investigations revealed widespread corruption in the United Nation’s scandal-plagued oil-for-food program, U.S. authorities have finally indicted its former director.
Benon Sevan has been charged with bribery and conspiracy to commit fraud for his role in running the $64 billion scam that was created to bring food and humanitarian goods to the Iraqi people using the proceeds of oil sales conducted through the United Nations.
Instead, the three-year program was infested with bribed officials and thousands of companies that paid Saddam Hussein illegal kickbacks, allowing the recently executed dictator to generate about $10 billion in illegal revenues.
Though a dozen officials have been charged or convicted for their role in the oil-for-food scam, the man running the show has gone unscathed. His indictment, filed this week by the U.S. Attorney in New York, comes with an arrest warrant that will eventually be executed by the Interpol. Sevan is a native of Cyprus and more than likely is living there.
Federal authorities say that Sevan received about $160,000 in kickbacks and a New York businessman, also charged this week with bribery and conspiracy, delivered the money on behalf of Iraq’s government between mid-1998 and mid-2002.
Eternally in denial, current and past U.N. officials continue praising the food scam for having accomplished one of the largest and most complex tasks ever entrusted to the world body. In fact, in a statement to the Security Council, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan paid tribute to the program’s staff and said that it was a tremendous success that met the need of the civilian population across some 24 economic and social sectors.
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