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Annan Threatened: Pay My Bills or I'll Spill the Beans

Wednesday, 27 April 2005 12:00 AM

Benon Sevan, a veteran Cypriot diplomat, now the target of several U.S. and U.N. investigations, has sent Annan a "demand" that the world body pay his mounting legal bills "or else."

According to Annan chief of staff Mark Malloch Brown, the letter, written by Sevan's legal team, carried an implied threat of new public disclosures regarding embezzlement in the now defunct Oil-for-Food Program.

Sevan has given no indication that Annan was involved in the corrupt pay-off scheme. But if anyone might have evidence linking Annan, Sevan would know where the bodies are buried.

According to U.S. and U.N. investigators, the $60 billion program, which ran from 1996 to 2003, may have seen more than $6 billion directly skimmed and as much as $15 billion lost through oil smuggling overlooked by the U.N. and the Security Council itself.

Sevan has repeatedly claimed that Annan had committed to pay all legal bills up to the time U.N. chief investigator Paul Volcker issued an interim report on the Iraqi aid program scandal in February.

Those bills, which sources estimate at more than $350,000, have now become a subject of contention between the U.N. and the former under secretary-general.

With allegations of potential criminality, the U.N. has opted to decline the Sevan request for legal reimbursements.

"We will not pay his legal bills. It will not happen," Malloch Brown told NewsMax. "If he [Sevan] has new information on the Oil-for-Food Program, let him make it public," Malloch Brown insisted.

Another U.N. official, speaking on background, told NewsMax, "If he has new information that has not been tuned over to [U.N. investigator] Volcker, that raises new questions."

Volcker has publicly complained that Sevan has "been less than forthcoming" during his panel's investigation into the multibillion-dollar scandal.

Currently, Sevan enjoys "functional immunity" – U.N.-speak for diplomatic immunity.

Annan, however, has pledged to remove such immunity if any U.N. staffer is indicted for criminal activity or found to be obstructing the Volcker investigation.

If Sevan does indeed have new information – information kept from the Volcker investigation – that may prompt Annan to revoke his diplomatic shield before any criminal indictment, confirmed the U.N. official.

NewsMax has learned that in addition to the U.N. investigation, Sevan is also the target of an Internal Revenue Service probe into possible tax evasion.

Neither Sevan nor his legal team would comment on the recent turn of events.

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Benon Sevan, a veteran Cypriot diplomat, now the target of several U.S. and U.N. investigations, has sent Annan a "demand" that the world body pay his mounting legal bills "or else." According to Annan chief of staff Mark Malloch Brown, the letter, written by...
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2005-00-27
Wednesday, 27 April 2005 12:00 AM
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