Source Pravda.Ru

Report condemns corruption in UN

Investigation started a year ago found the United Nations urgently needs sweeping financial controls to avoid the "illicit, unethical and corrupt behavior" uncovered in the $64 billion oil-for-food program for Iraq.

The investigation by the Independent Inquiry Committee, headed by Paul Volcker, the former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman, to be released in full Wednesday, says the United Nations was ill-equipped to handle a program of that magnitude "or even programs of a lesser scope."

"An adequate framework of controls and auditing was absent," said the report's preface, released on its Web site. "There were, in fact, instances of corruption among senior staff as well as in the field."

The report is expected to run to nearly 1,000 pages and is an analysis of the U.N.-established investigation of the now-defunct program that allowed Saddam Hussein's government to sell oil and buy food, medicine and other goods to offset the impact of 1990 sanctions on ordinary Iraqis.

But the report said a major problem was that no one was in charge -- neither the Security Council, meant to supervise the program, nor the U.N. secretariat, the semi-independent U.N. aid agencies and the General Assembly. Therefore when problems arose decisions "were delayed, bungled or simply shunned."

Consequently, ex-President Saddam Hussein was able to exploit the program and its "wholesale corruption" among private companies, which will be detailed in an October report, reports Reuters.

It described instances of what it termed as "illicit, unethical and corrupt" behavior during the operation, according to the preface, released by the Independent Inquiry Commission.

"An adequate framework of controls and auditing was absent," the report said.

"There were, in fact, instances of corruption among senior staff as well as in the field."

The report pointed out that while the secretary general was supposed to be in charge of administration, in reality his diplomatic responsibilities were all-consuming, says the BBC's Susannah Price at the UN headquarters in New York.