NEW YORK — One of the targets of the Oil-for-Food investigation, Alexander Yakovlev (search), on Monday pleaded guilty to conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering charges for taking bribes during his work at the United Nations.
Yakovlev was stripped of his diplomatic immunity earlier Monday and taken into custody by federal authorities. David N. Kelley, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, announced that a judge accepted Yakovlev's guilty plea for his part in taking at least several hundred thousand dollars from foreign companies in connection with his job as a procurement officer at the world body from 1993 to 2005.
Yakovlev was taken into custody hours after Paul Volcker (search), the man in charge of the U.N.-approved probe into Oil-for-Food, fingered Yakovlev as one of two main U.N. officials involved in the program's corruption.
Yakovlev, who handled tens of millions of dollars worth of U.N. supply contracts annually, was accused in a report Monday of collecting nearly $1 million in kickbacks outside the Oil-for-Food (search) program.
Yakovlev resigned from his job earlier this summer after a FOX News investigation.
The news came after Volcker's U.N.-approved panel, the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC), released its latest report highlighting mismanagement of Oil-for-Food.
The report also accuses Benon Sevan (search), the one-time head of the Oil-for-Food program who severed his ties with the United Nations on Sunday, of taking kickbacks under the multi-billion dollar humanitarian operation aimed at easing the effects of sanctions on Iraqi civilians.
Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman, also said in releasing the report that Sevan should also lose his diplomatic immunity so he can be prosecuted for alleged crimes.
"All I can fairly say is that given the kind of evidence that we have presented, I would think there may well be interest in doing so," Volcker said, referring to Sevan and Yakovlev losing their immunity.
Read the report by clicking here (pdf).
The report, which Volcker said was intended to tie up some "loose ends" in his panel's investigation, touched on topics other than Sevan. It dealt briefly with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) and his son, Kojo (search), and said more would be discussed in the committee's final report, expected in September.
For the first time, the report gave a motive for Sevan's actions, saying his finances were "precarious" shortly before his alleged misdeeds.
"Our conclusions are obviously significant and troubling," Volcker said at a news conference.