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UN investigating contract procurement after bribe scandal

[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official website] said Wednesday that the United Nations would be increasing surveillance of its procurement department after recent accusations that a senior official accepted close to $1 million in bribes from contractors. An internal investigative team at the UN on Monday arrested purchasing official Alexander Yakovlev [JURIST report] for pocketing about $1 million from the winners of $80 million in UN contracts. Benon Sevan, the head of the oil-for-food program [official website; JURIST news archive] from 1997 to 2003, was also accused of receiving $150,000 in kickbacks [JURIST report] from a Swiss-based trading firm. Sevan has adamantly denied taking bribes and nonetheless may not be able to be extradited from his native Cyprus [JURIST report]. Annan said he would meet with his new undersecretary-general for management, Christopher Burnham, later this week to discuss ways to ensure the integrity of procurement. US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton [official profile], commenting on the ways to reform the UN, said the lessons learned from the current scandals must be used to take "UN governance and management into the future." Reuters has more. Read a full transcript of Bolton's remarks.

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