Sevan Asks for More Time to Respond to Oil-for-Food Allegations

Benon Sevan (search), who used to oversee Iraq's Oil-for-Food program, wants more time to respond to allegations that he improperly steered oil contracts to certain companies, the United Nations said Wednesday.

Sevan failed to meet Wednesday's 5 p.m. EST deadline after being given two weeks to answer the charges against him.

Instead, he sent a letter "requesting an extension before replying," U.N. associate spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. "That request is being considered."

Sevan was recently suspended by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan following an interim report from former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who was commissioned to head up the investigation into the Oil-for-Food (search) scandal. Sevan was suspended for recommending a friend's oil company for the contracts.

Click here to read Sevan's statement regarding those charges.

Joseph Stephanides (search), head of the U.N. Security Council Affairs Division, also was accused of misconduct by Volcker's committee. Stephanides responded to the charges against him and his reply will be reviewed before any action is taken, Dujarric said.

Annan could decide to strip Sevan of his diplomatic immunity and that, in turn, could open the door for U.S. authorities to file criminal charges against him.

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., recently said Sevan should have that immunity taken away so that he can face congressional investigators and be prosecuted for his alleged criminal activities. Coleman's Senate Governmental Affairs investigations subcommittee recently announced that it had acquired new Iraqi documents that estimate that Sevan made as much as $1.2 million in profits from oil deals with Saddam Hussein's government.

Sevan has been identified in Iraqi Oil Ministry documents as having participated in a scheme by Saddam to issue vouchers to people that let them profit from illicit sales of Iraqi oil.

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who has been investigating financial relationships within the Oil-for-Food program, also plans to probe Sevan's activities.

FOX News' Jonathan Hunt contributed to this report.