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This could get interesting. From the London Sunday Telegraph:
American prosecutors are preparing charges against Benon Sevan, the former head of the United Nations oil for food programme, who has been accused of accepting millions of dollars in kickbacks from Saddam Hussein's regime.
Congressional investigators examining alleged corruption in the programme disclosed that Mr Sevan's diplomatic immunity would not prevent an indictment being issued. Mr Sevan has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
"We have tried to find out what part he had and we've been working to lift the lid on what he did," said one official on the US Congress International Relations committee. "My understanding is that we can indict him without lifting diplomatic immunity. That's what we did with Noriega."
Gen Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian leader, was indicted in 1988 by a federal grand jury in Miami for drug trafficking. He had allowed the Medellin cartel to launder money and build cocaine laboratories in Panama.
Former officials in Iraq's state oil company, Somo, have alleged to investigators reporting to the International Relations committee that Mr Sevan was "sacked" on Saddam's orders in 2001 for failing to keep promises to campaign on ending sanctions.
Key quotes follow.
"These people are digging, digging. That's nothing to do with me," he said from his five-star hotel. "Cyprus is my home. I'm here because I want to be here. I've made my statement and stand by it. It's not for me to comment on anything else."
A spokesman for the Southern district of Manhattan's federal prosecutor's office said it was "too early" to comment on its indictment efforts over Mr Sevan. Officials are, however, examining the diplomat's extensive property portfolio in the United States.
And this from an "official":
A second Congressional official said that the US hoped to recover some of the funds allegedly siphoned off from the now-defunct oil sales programme, which was designed to alleviate shortages of basic goods in Iraq as a result of sanctions.
He said: "Our priority is to recover as much money as we can for Iraq, for various reasons, because they need the money and every dollar they have is a dollar we don't have to put in there."
The plot thickens indeed; do the American papers have this story yet?
Fox news has done a good job on reporting on the entire scandal. A program aired last night really clobbered the bribe takers.Posted by Pat in NC at October 18, 2004 05:31 PM
Ghost Dansing, I must have missed the part of your self-back-patting screed where any American corporate involvement in the Oil-for-Food bribes contributed to the tragic result we saw from Russia, China, France and Germany and various individual U.N.-niks, i.e. a complete unwillingness to hold Saddam accountable for systematically violating 16 separate U.N. resolutions spanning a decade. Do you really have any doubts as to whether the bribes themselves or the Security Council quid pro quos are the larger scandal?Posted by FredRum at October 19, 2004 01:53 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(2) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)