Roger L. Simon

Oil-for-Food is a crime after all!

Just when we thought all the Oil-for-Food mega-thieves were going to get off with the lightest imaginable slaps on the wrists (an internal UN investigation!), it turns out at least one of the miscreants is under a real-live criminal investigation. According LaRosett writing in this morning’s NY Sun (subscription only):

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has opened a criminal investigation into the former head of the U.N. oil-for-food program, Benon Sevan, the DA’s office has just confirmed for the first time to The New York Sun.

The probe, apparently well advanced, involves allegations of commercial bribery related to Mr. Sevan’s role as executive director from 1997-2003 of the oil-for-food relief program for Iraq, then under U.N. sanctions against the former regime of Saddam Hussein. Mr. Sevan was picked for the job by Secretary-General Annan.

News of the criminal probe raises prospects that at least one U.N. official may yet face criminal prosecution over activities related to the more than $110 billion worth of Saddam’s oil sales and relief purchases that the United Nations oversaw in Iraq from 1996-2003. The probe into Mr. Sevan comes on top of oil-for-food-related indictments of a number of private businessmen issued April 14 by federal prosecutors for the Southern District of New York, along with a federal complaint alleging bribery involving unnamed “high-ranking United Nations officials” – described in circumstances that suggest these are individuals other than Mr. Sevan.

UPDATE: All of Claudia Rosett’s pieces are now available at the invaluable Foundation for the Defense of Democracies site. The one linked above is here.