Switzerland opens Oil-for-Food investigation as UN, US call for reforms

[JURIST] Swiss authorities have announced that they are investigating four people in connection with the now defunct UN Oil-for-Food program [official website; JURIST news archive], all of whom are suspected of money laundering and bribery. The four suspects have not been identified, but are said to be non-Swiss citizens who have had their assets in Swiss bank accounts frozen. AP has more. The Swiss investigation comes after the Independent Inquiry Committee [official website] into the program released its final report [text] Wednesday, which concluded that several parties shared responsibility for the program's mismanagement - including the UN Secretariat, UN Security Council, UN agencies, national governments and private companies and individuals. After receiving the IIC report, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan accepted responsibility for the program's failure [JURIST report; Annan statement], saying "as chief administrative officer, I have to take responsibility for the failings revealed, both in the implementation of the Programme and, more generally, in the functioning of the Secretariat." On Thursday, Annan sent a letter [UN News report] to all UN staff, calling for renewed dedication to the organization's ideals and stressing the importance of enacting management reforms. US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton [official profile] has said the US will review the IIC report in an effort to make proposals on reforming and improving the UN. Bolton said the US may not agree with all of the committee's recommendations, but hopes the report will allow greater auditing and management controls [State Department press release], suggestions which have previously met international resistance. UN reform is anticipated to be a large focus of the upcoming 2005 World Summit [official website].

 

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