3 more oil-for-food reports to be issued
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that the committee probing claims of wrongdoing in the oil-for-food program will issue up to three more reports and is asking for more money, officials said.
Annan told the council he wanted to comply with a request from the Independent Inquiry Committee for documents relating to the work of the council and its subsidiary organs, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
Some council members expressed concern about the accuracy of the notes, sloppy translations and the inclusion of personal opinions, a council diplomat said on condition of anonymity because the meeting was closed.
The $64 billion oil-for-food program was intended to help ordinary Iraqis suffering under U.N. sanctions imposed after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, but it has become the target of several corruption investigations since the Iraqi leader was ousted.
The committee, headed by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, says a report set for August will be the final, comprehensive document.
"We expect the August report to be the comprehensive statement from the committee on the oil-for-food investiation," said Mike Holtzman, the committee spokesman. "Prior or subsequent reports would be to tie up loose ends."
In an earlier report, Volcker's committee said Annan didn't properly investigate possible conflicts of interest in awarding a contract to a company that employed his son, Kojo Annan. The report cleared him of trying to influence the contract or violating U.N. rules.
Annan said Volcker's team wants minutes and notes taken by U.N. Secretariat officials at all meetings of the Security Council committee that monitored sanctions against Iraq and was responsible for overseeing the oil-for-food program, council diplomats said.
"We were at the meeting and shared our assessment that all documents should be turned over to the Volcker committee as soon as possible," said Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
The council members said they would have an answer for the secretary-general next Tuesday, said the diplomat who noted members' concerns about the documents.
The committee has said it is still investigating Kojo and Kojo Annan, as well as Benon Sevan, the former U.N. oil-for-food chief who was accused of a conflict of interest and came under suspicion for some $160,000 in "unexplained wealth."
An official with knowledge of the meeting, who also requested anonymity because the meeting was private, said Annan told the council that there would be three more reports ¡ª one in July, the final report in August and a third this fall that might simply be a list of companies and individuals that violated the oil-for-food program's rules.
Volcker's investigation is funded from oil-for-food program revenue and Dujarric's statement said the committee's budget was also discussed. Another council diplomat who attended the meeting said the committee wants $3 million to $3.5 million more to finish its work. Officials estimated the core investigation would cost a total of $30 million.