St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Oil-for-food report blasts U.N.

By wire services
Published September 7, 2005

UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council and Secretary General Kofi Annan failed to adequately manage and police the $64-billion U.N. oil-for-food program, creating an environment that enabled Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq to take billions of dollars in illicit kickbacks, according to the findings of a U.N. investigation to be released today.

The report by Paul Volcker, the former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman who heads the U.N. Independent Inquiry Committee, will portray a largely dysfunctional, leaderless international effort to operate the humanitarian relief effort for Iraq from December 1996 until the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003. Volcker will urge world leaders attending a Sept. 14 summit on U.N. reform to support steps to strengthen the quality of independent oversight of the organization's spending.

"To settle for less . . . will invite failure, further erode public support, and dishonor the ideals upon which the United Nations is built," says the preface of Volcker's report.

The document, which is expected to run more than 700 pages, is the fourth and most comprehensive report by Volcker's panel.

Among new conclusions, the report will say that Iraq's neighbors, including Jordan, Turkey and Syria, violated U.N. sanctions by smuggling billions of dollars of Iraqi oil, U.N. sources said. The report also will fault key Security Council members, including France and Russia, for impeding efforts to reform the oil-for-food program. And it will criticize the United States for doing too little to discourage allies in the region from violating the sanctions.

Elsewhere . . .

HOLLOWAY CASE: An 18-year-old Dutch man who had been held by police in Aruba in connection with the disappearance of American tourist Natalee Holloway arrived in the Netherlands on Tuesday. Joran van der Sloot and his father arrived at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, ignored questions from reporters, and quickly departed. The 18-year-old was to attend college in Holland, his mother said.

EGYPT ELECTIONS: Egypt's government warned that it would not tolerate election day protests today, and the opposition fretted about possible ruling party dirty tricks in Egypt's first contested presidential vote. President Hosni Mubarak, who has led Egypt for 24 years and is certain to win today's balloting, calls the election a major step toward greater democracy in a country that has seen only authoritarian rule for more than a half century.

INDONESIAN PLANE CRASH: A 5-year-old boy given up for dead in a plane crash in Indonesia that killed 148 people has been found in a hospital and reunited with his parents. The dead in Monday's Mandala Airlines' crash included 101 passengers and crew and 47 people on the ground. Sixteen people aboard the flight survived, including 5-year-old Pento Panjaitan, who had been traveling to Jakarta with his father.

JAPAN TYPHOON: Typhoon Nabi lashed southern Japan and South Korea, killing five people, injuring dozens and forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes. At least 15 others were missing as waves driven by 78 mph winds slammed the coast and storm surges flooded seaside towns.

SAUDI ASSAULT: In a barrage of gunfire and explosions, Saudi special forces overran a seaside villa in Dammam where al-Qaida-linked militants had been holed up, ending three days of fighting that killed at least nine people.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.