The United Nations oil-for-food scandal is about to get nastier and more personal. Sources tell TIME that the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Minnesota's Norm Coleman, will soon make public the names of prominent individuals from several countries who received lucrative and oh-so-illegal oil contracts from Saddam Hussein in violation of the U.N. program designed to keep the Iraqi people from starving while depriving their dictator of cash. Although the names of scores of rumored recipients have been circulating for more than a year, this week the subcommittee is expected to begin releasing voluminous details of oil contracts with Charles Pasqua, a former French Interior Minister and onetime close associate of French President Jacques Chirac's who has categorically denied any involvement. Among others to be named are a member of British Parliament, a right-wing politician in Russia and a former senior aide to Russia's President, Vladimir Putin.
Meanwhile, the man running the U.N.'s probe of the scandal-ridden program scrambled last week to protect some of his findings from Congress. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker demanded that investigators on Capitol Hill return boxes of evidence they received from one of his employees who quit last month, associates say, angry because a Volcker report had underplayed criticism of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Concerned about leaks, Volcker said the documents included names of confidential sources "whose lives quite literally would be at risk if information about their cooperation became known."
As the Bush Administration awaits the subcommittee's revelations, sources tell TIME that the U.S. has warned several foreign embassies in Washington that their nationals may soon be identified as suspected wrongdoers. The White House also urged the subcommittee to delay airing the Russian names, at least until after President Bush's return this week from his meeting with Putin. --By Adam Zagorin