Secretary-General waives immunity of Assembly committee chairman arrested by US

2 September 2005

Secretary-General Kofi Annan waived the diplomatic immunity of the chairman of a General Assembly advisory committee who was arrested by United States officials in connection with the investigation of a former procurement officer accused of soliciting kickbacks, a United Nations spokesperson said today.

“We can confirm that Mr. Vladimir Kuznetsov, the chairman of the ACABQ (Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions), was arrested last night,” Marie Okabe told the regular noon briefing in response to a question.

“We can confirm to you that the Secretary-General did waive his diplomatic immunity in response to a request and that we have been cooperating with the US authorities on this enquiry, which comes out of an investigation that had been initiated by OIOS (Office of Internal Oversight Services) against Mr. Yakovlev.”

Alexander Yakovlev was accused in the third Interim Report of the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) into mismanagement in the UN's Iraq Oil-for-Food-programme of soliciting kickbacks.

Ms. Okabe had been asked how widespread the problem was. “We don't know more in terms of how widespread it is. We don't know at this point if more will be uncovered,” she replied. “And, as I mentioned, it was OIOS who had instigated the investigation against Mr. Yakovlev and then turned it over to US federal authorities.”

The ACABQ is a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly consisting of 16 members appointed by the Assembly in their individual capacity. The major functions are to examine and report on the budget submitted by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly; to advise the General Assembly concerning any administrative and budgetary matters referred to it; to examine, on behalf of the General Assembly, the administrative budgets of the specialized agencies and proposals for financial arrangements with such agencies; and to consider and report to the General Assembly on the auditors' reports on the accounts of the United Nations and of the specialized agencies.