"UN chief 'linked to $10m Iraq oil bribe'
From James Bone, in New York
"AN AGENT from South Korea who established a "secret backchannel" between a former UN Secretary-General and Saddam Hussein's regime asked Iraq for $10 million "to take care of some people", a New York court was told.
Iraq set aside $15 million for the bribery scheme and sent $3 million in cash to New York in the year the UN's Oil-for-Food programme was set up, it was alleged.
It also heard that Iraq's UN ambassador at the time believed that some of the money was destined for Boutros Boutros Ghali, then Secretary-General, although the prosecutors did not suggest that any of it reached him. Dr Boutros Ghali denies any wrongdoing.Samir Vincent, a businessman who has pleaded guilty to working secretly for Iraq, told the court that he had recruited Tongsun Park in 1992 because of his connections to Dr Boutros Ghali. Mr Park is on trial accused of acting as an unregistered foreign agent.
According to Mr Vincent, the secret backchannel was used to pass messages between the UN chief and Iraq. The court was told that Mr Vincent kept note of purported exchanges in which Dr Boutros Ghali allegedly told Iraq to put secret police with UN monitors and that he would try to "neutralise" the UN's chief weapons inspector.
Mr Vincent said that he assumed that Mr Park was referring to Dr Boutros Ghali when he asked for $10 million to "take care of some people". Nizar Hamdoon, Iraq's UN ambassador who has since died, apparently took a similar view, telling Mr Vincent: "I guess he needs to take care of BB."
"Witness: Iraq deal led to suitcase of cash, dilemma in desert
By DAVID B. CARUSO
Associated Press Writer
June 29, 2006, 7:54 PM EDT
Samir Vincent, who pleaded guilty last year to being an unregistered agent for Iraq, is the government's star witness in its case against Tongsun Park, a South Korean accused of secretly lobbying the United Nations on Iraq's behalf in the 1990s.
Park never explained who needed to be "taken care of," said Vincent, who also lobbied on Iraq's behalf, but he said he assumed it was a reference to then-U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, whom the South Korean claimed as a close friend.
"I said, 'I don't believe that the Iraqis will go along with something like this, but it's not for me to say,"' Vincent said.
Prosecutors contend that Iraq promised millions of dollars to Park because of his access to Boutros-Ghali. An independent panel concluded last year that Iraq had a scheme to bribe Boutros-Ghali but found no evidence the secretary general was aware of the plot or received the money.
On the witness stand Thursday, Vincent described his shock when Iraq said yes to Park, with a slight modification: Iraq would cough up $15 million. Park would get $5 million. The rest would be split between Vincent and Iraq's ambassador to the U.N., Nizar Hamdoon. "..........