Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Senate strengthens case on Annan's son

Kojo Annan, the son of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, played a far more extensive role than previously revealed in a company that won a key contract under the scandal-plagued Iraq oil-for-food program, Senate investigators have learned.
Investigators also have uncovered documents suggesting that Benon Sevan, the U.N. official who oversaw the seven-year program and was suspended last week, had a much more direct interest in laundered oil deals handed out as bribes by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein under the program. One Iraqi internal investigation put Mr. Sevan's profits at $1.2 million, nearly 10 times the previous estimate.
The revelations are to be aired today at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs permanent subcommittee on investigations, one of a half-dozen congressional panels investigating the $10 billion-plus scandal.
U.S. government investigators estimate that Saddam skimmed as much as $10 billion from the 1996-2003 program, which was designed to allow Iraq, laboring under strict international sanctions imposed after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, to sell its oil to purchase tightly regulated food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies.
The revelations seem almost certain to put new heat on the embattled U.N. secretary-general, who has faced sharp criticism for his overall management of the Iraq program and for the questions about his son's potential conflicts.


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