OIL-FOR-FOOD: HOW MUCH DID BOUTROS-GHALI HEAR?

Federal prosecutors investigating the Oil-for-Food scandal are focusing on a growing number of current and former U.N. officials, court documents show. Among those under scrutiny: ex-U.N. secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali and his aides. The documents were released last week along with criminal charges filed against South Korean businessman Tongsun Park, accused of receiving $2 million in secret payments from Iraq to lobby on Oil-for-Food. Some of the money, the Feds say, was to be used to "take care" of a senior U.N. official. Park also allegedly invested Iraqi money in a company owned by an "immediate family member" of another U.N. official. Investigators say a key event in the alleged scheme was a June 1993 meeting in Geneva between "U.N. Official #1" and two Iraqis. News reports show that a critical meeting on Iraq was held in Geneva at that time between Saddam Hussein sidekick Tariq Aziz and Boutros-Ghali. U.N. sources say this doesn't prove Boutros-Ghali's involvement. Boutros-Ghali couldn't be reached for comment; Park's lawyer says his client denies wrongdoing.

The inquiry is also proving awkward for Washington notables. The key witness against Park is Samir Vincent, an Iraqi-American oil trader who pleaded guilty in January to violating U.S. sanctions against Iraq and is now a government witness. Vincent told the Feds that while scheming with Park, he pursued contacts with former senior U.S. officials in the '90s to modify U.S. policy toward Iraq. One contact, sources say, was Frank Carlucci, Defense secretary under Ronald Reagan. Documents say Vincent "regularly updated" a "former U.S. government official" on his efforts, with Park, to get a resolution favorable to Iraq. Vincent hoped the unidentified American would "garner support" inside the U.S. government for a U.N. resolution, though there's no evidence that happened. Sources near the probe say this is an apparent reference to Carlucci, a tennis partner with whom Vincent talked U.S.-Iraq relations. A spokesman for the former Defense secretary tells NEWSWEEK that Carlucci was "not involved in garnering support for a U.N. resolution" and "there's no reason to believe" the former official referred to in the complaint is Carlucci. Other former U.S. officials with whom Vincent dealt: former president Jimmy Carter and former Republican veep candidate Jack Kemp. Carter's office confirms a '99 meeting with Vincent; Kemp acknowledges more extensive contacts. In 2000, he wrote a letter to Aziz about his interest in bringing a group of prominent Americans to Iraq, telling Aziz: "Mr. Vincent will be able to brief you further on these efforts." "He misled me and a lot of other people," Kemp now says of Vincent.

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