Monday, August 08, 2005


Well, thank God the UN sanctions against the regime of Saddam Hussein were so effective: they really should have been given more time to work. Oh, wait...
Benon Sevan, former head of the United Nations' Iraqi oil-for-food programme, took almost $150,000 in illicit oil-related cash payments in concert with two Egyptian businessmen, the UN's independent inquiry alleged on Monday.
The findings came a day after Mr Sevan resigned, insisting it was not credible he would have compromised his career for such a sum.
Claudia Rosett, who has been assiduously following the story for over a year, has a characteristically prescient comments here:
It's rich that the former head of the United Nations Oil-for-Food program, Benon Sevan, is now protesting the secrecy surrounding U.N. records that he himself set up as confidential.
Sevan's recent experience of scrolling one page at a time through highly limited sets of U.N. documents, trying to piece together shreds and scraps of information, is an excellent description of what it was like during the Oil-for-Food era for anyone outside the U.N. seeking to know who was doing U.N.-approved business with Saddam — and on what terms. The United Nations did not disclose the names of the contractors, the price, quantity, or quality of goods. The U.N. provided no public accounting for the billions in bank balances, the interest collected, the letters of credit amended or even the $1.4 billion cut of Saddam's oil sales collected by Annan's secretariat to run the program (from which the Volcker inquiry is now drawing its $34 million budget, for which there has also been no public accounting).
Do read the whole thing.

No comments: