UNITED NATIONS — The New York Sun periodically runs a United Nations rogues' gallery chart in which the alleged bribers, schemers, and other wrongdoers involved in mischief at Turtle Bay are named and shamed. Our latest edition focuses on jury trials, indictments, plea deals, and other goings-on in the courtrooms of the Southern District of New York, where more and more U.N. personalities and the businessmen they favor are being targeted by the federal authorities.
Under pressure, the recently departed U.N. secretary-general, Kofi Annan, said early on that the United Nations would cooperate with investigators and that U.N. diplomats' immunity from prosecution would be stripped if they were indicted.
The oil-for-food scandal, which originated in the mid-1990s during Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali's final days in office and was launched just as Mr. Annan came to office, is the best-known U.N. imbroglio. A committee led by Paul Volcker began investigating it, and the United Nations called on all its member states to cooperate to bring the wrongdoers to justice. While some prosecutions took place in nations such as Australia, Russia all but ignored the scandal, failing to prosecute any of its own and protesting the conviction in New York of a Russian national, Vladimir Kuznetsov. America has carried out the most criminal prosecutions related to oil for food.
The second major U.N. imbroglio, the procurement scandal, was not directly related to oil for food. It arose after several U.N. whistleblowers alleged a culture of favoritism in the department in charge of contracting international companies to do business with the United Nations. Beyond the names on our list, the world body itself has investigated at least half a dozen procurement officials, several of whom were suspended from their jobs — with pay — while being investigated. Some of those officials may be brought to justice in the future, as a federal investigation is ongoing. Some people on the list, such as Benon Sevan and Ephraim Nadler, were indicted while they were abroad. It is unclear whether they will be extradited.
The Southern District is also reported to have launched a probe into a case involving counterfeit money allegedly held illegally by the United Nations Development Program.