Annan assumes responsibility for oil-for-food scandal

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he assumed responsibility for serious management lapses in the oil-for-food program for Iraq, but the head of an independent probe into the scandal said member states and the Security Council must share the blame.

The Independent Inquiry Committee's report heaped sharp criticism on Annan, his deputy and the Security Council on Wednesday for allowing Saddam Hussein to illegally obtain more than $10 billion, reports Reuters news agency.

"The report is critical of me personally, and I accept its criticism," Annan told the Security Council shortly after receiving an 860-page report from former Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul Volcker, who led an 18-month investigation into the now-defunct program, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP), reports MAS.

According to Forbes, the report said the scandal pointed to the need for establishing a post of chief operating officer to handle the day-to-day management of the world body.

Annan said he would discuss the idea with member states as part of the broader UN reform package.

Annan added that the findings were "deeply embarrassing to us all."

"As chief administrative officer, I have to take responsibility for the failings revealed," he said.

The UN chief also conceded that he was 'not diligent or effective enough' in pursuing a probe after he learned that the Swiss company Cotecna that employed his son Kojo had won a large contract under the oil-for-food program.

“I deeply regret that,” he said.

The Volcker panel said “he evidence is not reasonably sufficient to conclude that the secretary general knew that Cotecna had submitted a bid on the humanitarian inspection contract in 1998.”

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