An interim report released by the panel headed by former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker said “on the basis of available evidence, the report concludes that Mr Sevan corruptly benefited” from the scheme.
It said Mr Sevan, a 67-year-old Cypriot, personally benefited from a total of A$192,704 in oil allocations granted at his request, under the A$84 billion program, to African Middle East Petroleum (AMEP).
The company was headed by Egyptian Fakhry Abdelnour, a cousin of former UN secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
The report said Efraim Nadler, a friend of Mr Sevan, played an intermediary role in these transactions.
“As has been widely reported, Mr Sevan is now the subject of a criminal investigation. The criminal charges are to be brought against Mr Sevan,” said Mr Volcker at a press conference after the report was released.
He said his panel is recommending that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan support “any properly supported request from appropriate law enforcement authorities for waiver of Mr Sevan’s UN immunity”.
Mr Sevan’s lawyer Eric Lewis said the committee has not provided him with the evidence needed to defend his client against the accusation.
Meanwhile, a former United Nations procurement officer has pleaded guilty to accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from UN contractors, according to US federal prosecutors.
Alexander Yakovlev also admitted to soliciting a bribe under the UN oil-for-food program, making him the first UN official to face criminal charges in connection with the program.
He pleaded guilty to all three counts in the indictment — wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, and could now face up to 20 years in prison for each of the charges, the US Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Just hours earlier, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had waived Mr Yakovlev’s immunity upon request from David Kelley, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Mr Yakovlev was taken into custody and later released on a A$521,308.48 bond, and no new court date has been set.
The oil-for-food program ran from 1996 to 2003, when US-led forces invaded Iraq to oust then-president Saddam Hussein.
It allowed Baghdad to sell oil in exchange for humanitarian goods the country lacked due to sanctions.
But the Iraqi government swindled millions of dollars from the program, and the scandal has become a huge embarrassment for the UN.