U.N. Official Forced Out With Full Benefits

The U.N. copyright and patent chief who used a false birth date for more than two decades has accepted an extra year's salary of more than $300,000 and full pension benefits as part of a generous package to secure his resignation.

Kamil Idris has agreed to step down in September 2008 — a year before the end ofhis second term as director-general of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) — under pressure from Western countries.

An internal audit, leaked last year, revealed that Mr. Idris, a Sudanesenational, joined the body claiming that his birth year was 1945, which helpedhim land the job and win promotions. He was hired in 1982 for a job requiring adecade of professional experience.

According to his revised account, he was 28, not 37. He changed the birth year to 1954 last year.

This younger age would enable him to work longer within the U.N. system and "considerably benefit" by furtherbuilding up U.N. pension credits before retirement, the audit said.

Idris blames the age discrepancy on a typographical error.

He rejects assertions that he sought to benefit from the misstatement — or from the correction.

The Associated Press has learned Mr. Idris also made inaccurate claims about his qualifications when applying for jobs.

"WIPO will satisfy the contract between you and WIPO ... in respect of yoursalary, pension and other applicable entitlements," said a confidential letter from Martin Uhomoibhi, the Nigerian ambassador chairing the agency's general assembly.

The letter, dated Nov. 12 and obtained yesterday by the AP, is signed by Uhomoibhi and Idris, who then announced that he would step down before theend of his second six-year term.

Idris has an annual salary of $311,753, according to U.S. officials. But his pension benefits could be worth much more.

His 1982 application also said he obtained a master's degree in international law from Ohio University in 1978.

But Jessica Stark, spokeswoman for the university, said he received a master's degree in African studies.

Adding to the confusion, the audit said Idris registered at the university with a third birth date — Aug. 26, 1953, a year earlier than the revised date.

U.S. officials said yesterday that Idris' resignation terms were still being discussed, and declined to elaborate.

A spokeswoman for the copyright and patentagency said she was unable to comment.

Western diplomats have sought to secure Idris' departure and restore confidence in the 184-nation agency, which is viewed as an increasingly important body within the United Nations because of the growing economic value that countries place on copyrights, patents and other means of protecting intellectual property.

After months of inaction on the agency's internal audit, the United States and Switzerland spearheaded a campaign in October to block passage of its $537million budget.