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U.N. oil-for-food panel to 1st query U.N.

May 20, 2004 at 6:28 PM

UNITED NATIONS, May 20 (UPI) -- An independent panel investigating the Iraq U.N. Oil-for-Food program is first following allegations of corruption and misconduct within the United Nations.

Chairman Paul Volcker, of the Independent Inquiry Committee told reporters at U.N. World Headquarters in New York Thursday the panel after first focusing on the world organization would then turn, more broadly, to the question of possible maladministration of the humanitarian operation.

In the event of maladministration, questions related to why it occurred, where responsibility for it lies and what lessons can be drawn would also be addressed, he said.

The longest and most difficult aspect of the investigation, said the former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, would relate to what went on in Iraq itself in terms of contractors, overcharging and undercharging, kickbacks and smuggling.

He said an inquiry team already had been sent to Baghdad to contact the Iraqi Bureau of the Supreme Auditor, which had responsibility for collecting and consolidating program records. The team's objective was to gain accessibility to those records.

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