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Annan reaffirms UN's support for probe of Iraq Oil-for-Food allegations

Annan reaffirms UN's support for probe of Iraq Oil-for-Food allegations

Paul A. Volcker
Secretary-General Kofi Annan has reaffirmed that the United Nations will fully support the work of an independent panel he commissioned to examine allegations of corruption surrounding the UN Oil-for-Food programme for Iraq.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has reaffirmed that the United Nations will fully support the work of an independent panel he commissioned to examine allegations of corruption surrounding the UN Oil-for-Food programme for Iraq.

UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters today in New York that the Secretary-General welcomed a statement issued by panel chairman Paul Volcker, former head of the United States Federal Reserve Board. Mr. Annan "fully accepts the arrangements set out in that statement," Mr. Eckhard said.

In his statement yesterday, Mr. Volcker said that, at his request, the Secretary-General had taken the necessary steps to ensure that all UN staff cooperate fully with the investigation and that all relevant documents are secured solely for the committee's use, according to the spokesman.

Mr. Volcker also said that as the investigation proceeds, and as the committee arrives at an understanding of the substance and scope of the relevant documentation, including material in Baghdad, it will consider appropriate disclosure.

Mr. Eckhard said the Secretary-General assured the inquiry of the full cooperation of all UN staff. "He earnestly hopes that the inquiry will reveal the full truth about the management of the programme, and repeats his undertaking to waive the immunity of any official found by the inquiry to have broken the law," he said.

The UN Oil-for-Food programme began operating in 1996 and allowed Iraq to use a portion of its oil revenues to purchase humanitarian relief. The effort was monitored by the Security Council "661" committee, which included representatives from all 15 countries on the Council.

Until its termination in November 2003, the Programme oversaw the delivery of some $39 billion worth of humanitarian assistance to roughly 25 million people, many of whom were largely dependent on outside aid to survive since normal economic activity was severely constrained by sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.