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Annan suspends UN Oil-for-Food chief

[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has formally suspended [UN daily press briefing] Benon Sevan [official profile], the head of the UN oil-for-food program [official website], and Joseph Stephanides, a senior official who dealt with contracts. The suspensions come after an interim report [PDF text] by an inquiry commission conducted by former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker accused the pair of misconduct [JURIST report]. Sevan and Stephanides were both informed last Friday of their suspension with pay. The suspension is the beginning of a disciplinary process which could take months to finish. Volcker's report accuses Sevan of a "grave conflict of interest," saying his solicitation of oil deals in Iraq was "ethically improper and seriously undermined the integrity of the United Nations." Volcker is still investigating Sevan but has not alleged any criminal wrongdoing. Annan has indicated that if Volcker's findings lead to any criminal charges, he would lift diplomatic immunity. AP has more.

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