April 22, 2004


UNSCAM -- the United Nationsí charming oil-for-money deal that first attracted widespread blog attention back in January -- is now investigated by Americaís ABC News. And they do a fine job of it:

At least three senior United Nations officials are suspected of taking multimillion-dollar bribes from the Saddam Hussein regime, U.S. and European intelligence sources tell ABCNEWS.

Most prominent among those accused in the scandal is Benon Sevan, the Cyprus-born U.N. undersecretary general who ran the program for six years.

In an interview with ABCNEWS last year, Sevan denied any wrongdoing.

But documents have surfaced in Baghdad, in the files of the former Iraqi Oil Ministry, allegedly linking Sevan to a pay-off scheme in which some 270 prominent foreign officials received the right to trade in Iraqi oil at cut-rate prices.

And guess where our man Sevan is currently hiding out?

When news of the scandal first broke earlier this year, he took a long vacation to Australia.

He declined to answer questions when ABCNEWS found him last week staying at a luxury casino resort.

Canít blame ABC for not naming the exact resort -- Sevan is their story, and they want to keep his precise location unknown in case they can nail an exclusive interview. Iíve got some calls out trying to discover where he might be, because Iím inclined to go Sevan hunting myself (Iím guessing heís somewhere in Queensland). Any readers with any information, please email me. Meanwhile, letís see if the Australian media gets on to this massive international story and chases Sevan. You know heís here; let the pursuit begin!

UPDATE. So far only the Adelaide Advertiser and the Australian ABC -- via an AFP report -- have mentioned Sevanís presence in Australia.

UPDATE II. Instapundit has more.

Posted by Tim Blair at April 22, 2004 02:45 AM

I may have seen him Tuesday night, outside Star City Casino, when I delivered a Lithuanian hooker to him.

Posted by: jafa at April 22, 2004 at 02:58 AM

hmm, will we see a new tragedy by euripides soon: "Sevan Amongst Thieves"?

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at April 22, 2004 at 03:12 AM

Steals money from Iraqi children, gets away with it hitherto because US=Bad/UN=Good media inertia is almost impossible to stop and now he's purported to be swanning around in a casino resort, presumably spending and losing money that isn't his.

If the pursuit and publication of this story and others like it makes you a 'shock-jock' Tim, then shock, jock and rock on. Post a picture of 'Lucky' Sevan and some lap-top wielding hotel patron or staffer might give you a heads-up. You never know - Queensland's a small place believe me.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at April 22, 2004 at 03:15 AM

Wow that's a great article by ABC. First time I've ever seen names and amounts on this.

Posted by: Dash at April 22, 2004 at 03:22 AM

pity they don't mention kofi's son

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at April 22, 2004 at 03:33 AM

"pity they don't mention kofi's son"

Kojo Annan is only tangentially implicated in UNSCAM. Because of his job he had to know what was going on, but there is no evidence that he actually took any kickbacks (so far).

Peace and Freedom for an Independent Iraq!

Posted by: Zayphar at April 22, 2004 at 06:38 AM


I'm inclined to go Sevan hunting myself...

Brilliant! I need to try that one. "Hey boss, I need to go jetting around the world, visiting luxury casinos, and I need you to pay for it."

Wouldja maybe need a personal assistant/photographer/drink mixer to accompany you? I am available on short notice!

Posted by: TomK at April 22, 2004 at 06:50 AM

CurrencyLad --

If you want a photo of Benon Sevan look here.

Posted by: Uncle Bill at April 22, 2004 at 08:02 AM

I'm geussing Perth.

Posted by: Jonny at April 22, 2004 at 09:26 AM

Andrew Bolt has article on this today.

Posted by: walter plinge at April 22, 2004 at 09:50 AM

Got some calls out, huh? Who to? Ford? Holden? Toyota?

Posted by: Miranda Divide at April 22, 2004 at 10:06 AM

Thanks Uncle Bill. That photo is quite revealing: he has corrupt 3rd World flunkie written all over his blotched puss.

Tim, vibes from the photo suggest that whichever casino he is at will be quite upscale; he will waste no time in dark smoke-filled dives autistically pulling a one-armed bandit.

So, better to spend your time strolling amongst the baccarat tables in the classier joints. I bet you will find him sitting across from a cool, nattily-dressed bloke who speaks with a crisp English accent and has a certain air of danger about him.

Posted by: Carl in N.H. at April 22, 2004 at 10:35 AM

Job Opportunity for the nergetic and yound at heart:

Now recruiting young prospects to replace retiring geriatrics.
Conditions: salary, perks, free accomodation, meals, and multiples of hundreds of millions $U.S. in tradeable titles to oil as an incentive.

Qualifications: lurve Toffee Man Anan, feels stong emotional bonds with man, Arafat,Hamas, Mugabe, degree in sociology and other items of quackery, be committed to the new Grand Soviet Europe, Hate Evil Amerikka and Israel.

We look forward to receiving your applications and booking your place in a five star hotel, all expenses paid, for the rest of your wonderful careeah with us.

H.R., U.N.

Posted by: d at April 22, 2004 at 11:39 AM

This Sevan bloke should be in Sydney or Melbourne.

With his appearance, he must be able to blend in with the older migrant poulation of the inner suburbs of either town (or their Casino's).

Whether that poulation group would want him when they find out what he has been up to is another matter.

Posted by: DaveACT at April 22, 2004 at 01:15 PM

You'd have to laugh at the irony he's at a casino - presumably next week when they find half a billion in his bank account he'll claim he just go lucky at the roulette wheel.

Still, given that he embezzled the oil for Food program while he was at the UN why not see if we can recoup some of his riches under the new Australian Food for Oil program.

If you're a waiter or a waitress at a luxury casino, do not serve this man any food unless he pays in oil.

"VB and Chips, please."

"That'll be a thousand barrels of crude sir."

Should flush the greedy git out of hiding.

Posted by: Giles at April 22, 2004 at 02:26 PM

Blood for oil?
Why you silly sausages!!
Why on earth would anyone want to draw a profit from Iraq.

Posted by: Sincerity Slips at April 22, 2004 at 05:29 PM

I wonder if there will be an investigation into the billions in bribes by the US for support in its UN resolutions?

Of course not. That's 'diplomacy', not bribery. What double standards?

Posted by: fatfingers at April 22, 2004 at 10:20 PM

UNSCAM was surly one of the if not the greatest fraud case ever in the history of the world. If i see that creepy Kofi or this Sevan fella on holiday where i live i'll beat him to death

Posted by: Shep UK at April 24, 2004 at 07:32 PM

This is a woefully un-reported story in Australia. And what does it mean for the Australian wheat industry which did extensive trade with Iraq during the sanctions period of Oil for Food?

Posted by: Mike at April 24, 2004 at 10:52 PM