- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A top U.N. procurement officer who provided key evidence in the oil-for-food scandal has resigned amid charges he helped his son get a job with a firm that did business with the world body, U.N. officials said yesterday.

Alexander Yakovlev quit abruptly Tuesday night after the U.N.’s Office of Internal Oversight Services opened a formal investigation into reports the 52-year-old Russian citizen had urged New York-based IHC Services to hire his son, Dmitry.

U.N. officials also said that investigators from an investigative panel into the oil-for-food program headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker asked that Mr. Yakovlev’s office be immediately sealed to protect materials that may relate to their probe.

IHC supplies heavy capital equipment such as trucks and generators to clients such as nongovernmental organizations and the military, according to the company’s promotional materials.

According to Fox News, which first reported details of Mr. Yakovlev’s dealings earlier this week, IHC had at least one $1.2 million U.N. contract, but did not participate in the scandal-plagued $64 billion oil-for-food program in Iraq.

U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said it would violate the body’s guidelines even if the younger Mr. Yakovlev had been hired on normal commercial terms.

“It is a clear violation of staff rules for anyone to benefit financially from your work at the U.N. — full stop,” she said.

The senior Mr. Yakovlev handled major procurement deals for the United Nations and was praised in previous reports issued by Mr. Volcker’s inquiry.

A colleague in Mr. Yakovlev’s office, Joseph Stephanides, was fired by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan June 1 for reportedly steering oil-for-food contracts to favored bidders.

The charges against Mr. Yakovlev closely mirror ethics questions that have swirled around Mr. Annan. The Volcker panel has been looking into reports that the secretary-general steered a key monitoring oil-for-food contract to a company that once employed his son, Kojo, a charge Mr. Annan has categorically denied.

In his resignation letter, Mr. Yakovlev said he was quitting because of “allegations involving [his] violation of applicable staff rules and in order to protect the integrity, reputation and interest of the organization,” Miss Okabe said.

The spokeswoman added that Mr. Yakovlev has pledged to continue to cooperate with Mr. Volcker’s investigators. The U.N.’s own internal probe of the IHC hiring will also continue.

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