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Russian UN official arrested on money laundering charges

[JURIST] The US Federal Bureau of Investigation [official website] arrested Russian UN official Vadim Kouznetsov Thursday on money laundering charges. An FBI official said the still-sealed charges against Kouznetsov, who heads a UN budget oversight panel, are only remotely connected to the defunct UN Oil-for-Food program [official website; JURIST news archive]. Kouznetsov will be arraigned Friday in a federal court in Manhattan. Last month, fellow Russian UN official Alexander Yakovlev pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to accepting and soliciting bribes, wire fraud, and money laundering. Yakovlev worked in the UN procurement office and accepted almost $1 million in bribes in connection with the Oil-for-Food program. Yakovlev's arrest and plea prompted UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to order an investigation into UN contract procurement [JURIST report]. AP has more.

3:30 PM ET - Kouznetsov was charged Friday with conspiracy to commit money laundering, after UN Secretary General Kofi Annan waived Kouznetsov's diplomatic immunity [UN News report]. According to the indictment, Kouznetsov set up an offshore company in 2000 which helped hide payouts from companies seeking UN contracts. Kouznetsov receive the money from an unnamed UN procurement officer. AP has more.

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