Looks like the Volcker-led UN-Oil-For-Food investigation has claimed its first head:
The former head of the United Nations’ oil-for-food programme has quit the UN, lashing out at Secretary General Kofi Annan for “sacrificing” him.
Benon Sevan’s announcement on Sunday came a day before a third report on the scandal-plagued programme is published.
It is expected to accuse Mr Sevan of receiving cash in return for allocating Iraqi oil contracts in the mid-1990s.
The oil-for-food programme allowed Saddam Hussein to sell limited amounts of oil to buy humanitarian goods.
Mr Sevan’s lawyers have already said the report will falsely accuse him of receiving cash kick-backs for helping a company obtain lucrative oil contracts under the scheme.
Mr Sevan, a Nicosia-born Cypriot who had worked with the organisation for four decades, tendered his resignation in a letter addressed personally to Kofi Annan.
If the allegations are false, why quit?
There are a number of reasons to quit. Even if your innocence is in debate, if the writing is on the wall and they’re going to fire you anyway, better to quit in protest than to be escorted from your office.
Resigning usually ends the investigation. Perhaps he didn’t want his family and friends being repeatedly questioned. Perhaps he has some personal skeletons in his closet – a secretary his slept with or some taxes he didn’t pay – which would have looked bad on his record regardless of whether he’d been elbos deep in the oil-for-food deal.
Perhaps he really was a scapegoat and didn’t feel like sitting around taking flak for it in the office.
I’m not postulating on his innocence or guilt, just giving you some reasonable senarios for resigning.
Volker was on TV today calling for Sevan’s immunity to be lifted. He also mentioned Kojo.
It was very interesting. Foxnews showed quite a bit of his mumbling statement.
If Volker actually does something I’ll owe him an apology. I was putting my hopes in the congressional investigations and assuming his was a whitewash.
Maybe he’s actually being leak-proof. That would be more surprising if there weren’t a virtual news-blackout on the subject. If the NY Times ran half as many stories on Oil-For-Food that they have/are running on Abu Ghraib, Kofi would be in jail by now.
If they ran half as many stories on oil-for-food as Abu Ghraib, maybe they’d be able to track some of the 52% of the scandal that involves U.S. oil companies. Boy, did that story disappear.
Also, oil-for-food is about graft involving the UN and oil companies giving skim to Saddam to have him steer oil their way. I know it’s shocking, shocking that oil companies and oil brokers may dirty their hands to get hold of the stuff, but they do. No one has ever shown me how this graft involved taxpayer money, like the 9 billion dollars of taypayer money that disappeared in the months after the invasion. Saddam didn’t use the graft he got from oil-for-food to buy or make weapons of mass destruction. He didn’t have any. The US and British forces controlled the oil leaving Iraq throughout the oil-for-food period. The US and Britain constantly reviewed the oil-for-food program’s documents throughout its existence. And this guy Sevan was supposed to have stolen $1.3 million dollars. I’m shocked, shocked.
Graft involving oil companies? Is there any other way? I’m all for cleaning up the UN, but this is part of the Bush dismantling program.
April 18 (Bloomberg) — A Texas oilman and a Bulgarian living in the U.S. pleaded innocent to federal charges that they schemed to pay kickbacks to former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in connection with the United Nations oil-for-food program.
A federal grand jury last week accused Texan David Chalmers Jr. and two companies of which he’s the sole shareholder, Bayoil (USA) Inc. and Bayoil Supply & Trading Ltd., of paying millions of dollars to Hussein to win the right to sell Iraqi oil under the program. The oil-for-food effort was designed by the UN to allow Iraq to buy food and medicine with oil export revenue.
Chalmers, 51, his companies, and a second man who was also indicted, Bulgarian Ludmil Dionissiev, described by prosecutors as a permanent legal resident of the U.S. who lives in Houston, pleaded innocent today in New York federal court.
“They’re not guilty of any criminal conduct,” Chalmers’s lawyer, Bart Dalton, said after a brief court appearance. “We expect David Chalmers and Bayoil to be fully exonerated.”
Dalton entered an innocent plea on behalf of the Houston- based oil companies. David Howard, a lawyer for Dionissiev, an oil trader, declined to comment. U.S. District Judge Denny Chin scheduled another court appearance for May 18.
(GuardianUK) Report claims blind eye was turned to sanctions busting by American firms – The US administration turned a blind eye to extensive sanctions-busting in the prewar sale of Iraqi oil, according to a new Senate investigation. A report released last night by Democratic staff on a Senate investigations committee presents documentary evidence that the Bush administration was made aware of illegal oil sales and kickbacks paid to the Saddam Hussein regime but did nothing to stop them. The scale of the shipments involved dwarfs those previously alleged by the Senate committee against UN staff and European politicians like the British MP, George Galloway, and the former French minister, Charles Pasqua… the Senate report found that US oil purchases accounted for 52% of the kickbacks paid to the regime in return for sales of cheap oil – more than the rest of the world put together..
“The United States was not only aware of Iraqi oil sales which violated UN sanctions and provided the bulk of the illicit money Saddam Hussein obtained from circumventing UN sanctions,” the report said. “On occasion, the United States actually facilitated the illicit oil sales. The report is likely to ease pressure from conservative Republicans on Kofi Annan to resign from his post as UN secretary general…
…Yesterday’s report makes two principal allegations against the Bush administration. Firstly, it found the US treasury failed to take action against a Texas oil company, Bayoil, which facilitated payment of “at least $37m in illegal surcharges to the Hussein regime”. The surcharges were a violation of the UN Oil For Food programme, by which Iraq was allowed to sell heavily discounted oil to raise money for food and humanitarian supplies. However, Saddam was allowed to choose which companies were given the highly lucrative oil contracts. Between September 2000 and September 2002 (when the practice was stopped) the regime demanded kickbacks of 10 to 30 US cents a barrel in return for oil allocations.
In its second main finding, the report said the US military and the state department gave a tacit green light for shipments of nearly 8m barrels of oil bought by Jordan, a vital American ally, entirely outside the UN-monitored Oil For Food system. Jordan was permitted to buy some oil directly under strict conditions but these purchases appeared to be under the counter. The report details a series of efforts by UN monitors to obtain information about Bayoil’s oil shipments in 2001 and 2002, and the lack of help provided by the US treasury…
I don’t know where you got the 52% number, but prosecute ’em all.
I would like to note that 100% of the scandal involves the UN.