UN oil-for-food chief on corruption charge

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Indy Politics

The former head of the UN's oil-for-food programme for Iraq has been charged with bribery and conspiracy to commit fraud.

Benon Sevan, 69, who was the programme's executive director, has been charged by US prosecutors. Ephraim Nadler, 79, of Manhattan, faces the same charges, issued by a New York court. Mr Nadler is a brother-in-law of the former UN secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

The indictment alleges that Mr Sevan, from Cyprus, received $160,000 (82,000) from the Iraqi government via Mr Nadler.

The charges arise from the scandal over the programme set up from 1996 to 2003 to permit the Iraqi government to sell oil to buy food and medicine for suffering Iraqis. The programme was designed to help Iraqis cope with UN sanctions, but authorities said it was corrupted by bureaucrats, oil tycoons and Saddam Hussein after the former Iraqi leader was allowed to choose the buyers of Iraqi oil and the sellers of humanitarian goods.

A US attorney, Michael Garcia, said that the United States had lodged warrants for the arrest of both men with Interpol and would seek their arrest and extradition to America.

Mr Sevan worked for the UN for 40 years before resigning in 2005. He has denied wrongdoing, but could face up to 50 years in prison and Mr Nadler could face 112 years.