"I've met foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly, but boy, they look at you and say, You've got to win this... we need a new policy..."
I wonder if these were the "leaders" he was talking about:
I'm not running away, says UN official in oil for food scandal
By Damien McElroy in Nicosia and Charles Laurence
Benon Sevan, the official at the centre of the United Nations' oil-for-food scandal, has broken his silence to claim that he is being persecuted after an independent inquiry was ordered into allegations of multi-billion dollar corruption relating to the scheme.
Tracked down on Friday by The Sunday Telegraph to a five-star hotel in his native Cyprus, Mr Sevan said that he was being unfairly persecuted and vowed to "talk plenty" once the inquiry had reported back to the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.
In an emotional exchange, the UN Deputy Secretary General said he would establish his innocence.
"I am going back to America tomorrow morning - I am not running away," he said. "I will talk about this when it's all over. Please don't underestimate me."
Mr Sevan's name was among 270 individuals and companies to appear on a list of recipients who allegedly skimmed at least £5.5 billion from the oil-for-food scheme.
Intended to help the poor and sick of Iraq, it handled almost £39 billion in funds. Saddam Hussein is alleged to have granted oil vouchers for personal gain, in exchange for influence.
Documents found in the Iraqi oil ministry since Saddam's fall suggest that Mr Sevan secretly received vouchers to sell 14.3 million barrels of oil, which would have yielded an illicit profit of £2 million.
Mr Sevan has consistently denied any wrongdoing. According to UN officials, his name could have been taken by a crooked Iraqi government official.
When asked about Mr Sevan's whereabouts in recent weeks, the UN would say only that he was on holiday, pending his retirement in June at the age of 66. He is due to receive a £55,000 annual pension after serving the UN for 40 years.
Now, however, those plans have changed. According to UN officials contacted by The Sunday Telegraph last week, Mr Sevan will stay in office to co-operate with the inquiry by the former US Treasury Secretary, Paul Volcker.
In the deal struck with Mr Annan, Mr Sevan will continue for the next three months and be paid a token $1 (55p) a year as a consultant, while continuing to enjoy diplomatic immunity.
"We could extend it again, because Mr Sevan has assured us that he will co-operate fully with the inquiry," said a spokesman for the UN secretariat.
Mr Sevan's office, however, was criticised last week for sending at least three letters to potential witnesses demanding their silence. The letters were unearthed by the US Congress after witnesses to its own inquiry into the oil-for-food debacle suddenly fell silent.
One letter, written in Mr Sevan's name, was sent to a consultant to the programme who had been identified by congressional investigators as a potential whistleblower.
It reminded him that, under the terms of his UN contract, he "may not communicate at any time to any other person, government or authority external to the United Nations any information known to them by reason of their association with the United Nations, which had not been made public".
The letter continued: "In view of the contractual provisions referred to above, and the fact that these matters relate to internal UN procedures for managing the programme, we would ask that you consult with the UN before releasing any documentation or information."
A congressional investigator said: "This particular individual is someone we have been in contact with for more than a month. This letter has chilled his willingness to co-operate with the congressional investigation. This individual also appears to be genuinely frightened by the implications inherent in the letter."
The UN denied that the letters amounted to an attempt to enforce silence. "It is simply standard legal procedure because we want all relevant documents and information to be collected by the Volcker inquiry, which is the inquiry that has been appointed to investigate these allegations," the spokesman said.
Officials say that there is a mood of resentment within the UN over the interference from Washington. "The US is one member of the United Nations - what gives it the authority to interview our staff and demand our files? The UN belongs to all its members," said one official.
In Cyprus, Mr Sevan said that the letters had been sent out while he was in Australia on holiday. "I have never seen them," he said.
He complained that he had been unfairly portrayed as a jet-setter, on the run from his accusers, after being traced to a beach resort in Queensland, Australia, last month.
He said: "I had one day off last year for my daughter's graduation. I escaped death by a minute in Baghdad in the bombing of the UN building. When I went on holiday, they said I had disappeared, but I had planned it for two years."
2 May 2004: Iraq oil-for-food kickbacks 'higher than suspected'
Of course he's coming back to America. Stay in Cyprus-NO WAY. Diplomatic immunity, hotels, whores, bars, restaurants, parties and shows, all on the arm, and he gets out of Cyprus. And these are the chuckleheads Kerry wants to wholesale American foreign policy out to, since he went to prep school in the Swiss Alps with many of them. If we emptied that whole fiasco of a building today, it would have zero effect on the world. And parking and real estate in Manhattan would get a whole bunch easier.