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Annan Suspends Head Of UN Oil-For-Food Program

7 February 2005 -- The United Nations has suspended Benon Sevan, the man who headed the controversy-ridden oil-for-food program for Iraq.

UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said today that the suspension of Sevan marks "the beginning of the disciplinary process."

A report from an independent investigation released on 3 February accused Sevan of a "grave conflict of interest." The report said his conduct in soliciting oil deals was unethical and seriously undermined the UN's integrity.

Also suspended was UN official Joseph Stephanides, who, according to the report, "tainted" the competitive bidding process.

The program was set up to allow Iraq to sell oil to buy humanitarian aid as an exception to UN-imposed trade sanctions.

Sevan retired from the United Nations but remains on the payroll for a token $1 a year to help with the investigation. Stephanides is scheduled to retire in about five months.