UN Undersecretary General Indicted in Oil-for-Food Case
by Jim Kouri, CPP
United Nations Undersecretary General Benon Sevan of Cyprus and Ephraim Nadler, a/k/a "Fred Nadler," of New York City were indicted on charges of bribery and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in connection with the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program.
From mid-2000 until March 2003, the Iraqi government’s regime conditioned the right to purchase oil under the Oil-for-Food Program on a purchaser's willingness to pay a secret surcharge to Iraq. These secret payments were illegal kickbacks, made in violation of United Nations sanctions and United States criminal law.
Nadler allegedly participated in a scheme to make unlawful payments to the former government of Iraq in connection with the purchase of oil under the Oil-for-Food Program. Sevan, who at the time was the Executive Director of the United Nations Office of Iraq Program (the Office that operated the Oil-for-Food Program), as well as being the UN's Undersecretary General, allegedly received almost $160,000 -- money generated from the sale of Iraqi oil under the Program -- from Nadler on behalf of Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq.
Nadler is alleged to have helped a co-conspirator to obtain the right to buy Iraqi oil under the Oil-for-Food Program in exchange for commissions from the oil sales, and then allegedly funneled approximately $160,000 of these oil commissions to Sevan, according to the New York District Attorney's Office, which will be prosecuting the case along with the US Attorney's Office in New York.
Nadler and Sevan are charged with wire fraud, based on their depriving the United Nations of its right to Sevan's honest services; bribery concerning an organization (the United Nations) that receives more than $10,000 annually from the federal government; and conspiracy to commit these offenses.
Nadler is also charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud by engaging in prohibited financial transactions with Iraq and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 112 years’ imprisonment. If convicted, Sevan faces a maximum sentence of 50 years imprisonment.
The DA's office reports that the United States government has issued warrants for the arrest of Nadler and Sevan with Interpol, and will seek their arrest and extradition to the United States.
The Oil-for-Food Program was created to provide critical humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people. But prior prosecutions by the District Attorney demonstrate that the former government of Iraq thoroughly corrupted the Program -- by employing undisclosed Iraqi agents in the United States to try to influence the terms under which the program was adopted, and by demanding secret kickbacks from participants in the program during its operation.
The allegations in this current indictment that the Executive Director of the very program that was created to provide humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people was involved in such a scheme demonstrates how pervasive the corruption was, and how that corruption undermined the operation of the supposedly humantarian program, according to US officials.
FBI Assistant Director Mark Mershon stated during a press conference in New York: "This indictment -- which brings the number of individuals charged or convicted in our far-reaching investigation to 14 -- strikes at the heart of the corruption that pervaded the Oil-for-Food program. As Executive Director of the program and Undersecretary General of the U.N., Benon Sevan was responsible for maintaining the program's probity and propriety. Instead, his administration of the program was marked by profiteering and profligacy."
"The Oil for Food Program was established to provide humanitarian relief to the Iraqi people, not to line the pockets of corrupt officials. The U.S. Attorney's Office and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office have joined forces to uncover and prosecute any corruption or other illegal activities connected to that program. Today's indictment of the top UN official in charge of the Oil-for-Food Program and his business partner is an important step in our continuing investigation."
The US investigation into criminal wrongdoing in the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program is continuing, with the Department of Justice and the New York District Attorney's office working together.
Sources: US Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York District Attorney's Office,National Security Institute
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.