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9 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- A former United Nations procurement officer has pleaded guilty to accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from UN contractors.

A U.S. Attorney's Office statement says Aleksandr Yakovlev pleaded guilty late on 8 August to all three counts in an indictment -- wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and money laundering. Yakovlev, a Russian, faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the charges.

The statement says Yakovlev also admitted to soliciting a bribe under the UN oil-for-food program, making him the first UN official to face criminal charges in connection with the scandal-tainted program for Iraq.

The statement came hours after the UN-established Independent Inquiry Committee recommended Yakovlev and Benan Sevan -- who ran the UN oil-for-food program with Iraq -- be prosecuted for abuses in connection with the UN humanitarian program, which started in 1996 and ended in 2003 when the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq.

(Reuters/AFP/AP)

See also:

Panel Accuses Sevan, Yakovlev Of Corruption In Oil-For-Food Program
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