UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 9 (Xinhuanet) -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has notified former head of the Iraqi oil-for-food program and a senior UN official of the administrative charges against them as a result of their misconduct in the multi-billion dollar relief effort, a UN spokesperson said Wednesday.
Benon Sevan, who formerly headed the UN Office of the Iraq Program, and Joseph Stephanides, an official in charge of Security Council affairs in the department of political affairs, will have two weeks to respond, spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters.
The two were already informed orally last Friday of Annan's decision to suspend them with pay, following the release of a report by an independent panel probing alleged corruption and fraud in the now-defunct oil-for-food program.
The report said Sevan repeatedly solicited allocations of oil under the program for a Geneva-based company and by so doing "created a grave and continued conflict of interest."
The report did not rule on whether Sevan had personally profited. Through his lawyer, Sevan has denied any wrongdoing.
According to the report, Stephanides, who at the time was chiefof the UN sanctions branch, violated UN rules in selecting a company to inspect humanitarian goods entering Iraq under the program.
After receiving the responses of the two officials, Annan will decide on what action to take, Okabe said. His options range across a variety of disciplinary measures, including summary dismissal.
Annan's new chief of staff, Mark Malloch Brown, was in Washington Wednesday to meet with US lawmakers on reforms in UN management after the oil-for-food scandal. Okabe said Malloch would be in a "listening mode" while in the US capital. Enditem