Richard Holbrooke Under Investigation

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Richard Holbrooke's double role as international businessman and diplomat ex-officio has landed him in hot water -- the Justice Department on Friday confirmed that it had opened a review his financial statements and the contacts he maintained with State Department officials after he left public service. The probe will delay Holbrooke's confirmation as United Nations ambassador, and since Bill Richardson's tenure ended Friday, it will also temporarily leave the U.S. without a Cabinet-level representative at the international body.

Holbrooke may be a victim of his own diplomatic skill. "Even after he left the government and went to work for Credit Suisse Boston, the White House continued to use him as a special envoy to Cyprus, Bosnia and Kosovo," explains TIME correspondent Douglas Waller. "That necessitated high-level contact with State Department and foreign government officials. It's the issues that arise from that dual role that they're now having to sort through." After that, Holbrooke will still face the usual grilling by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Jesse Helms. The delay may squander a valuable opportunity; in November the U.S. is scheduled to assume the presidency of the Security Council, a position the seasoned Holbrooke might have used to revive Washington's failing reputation in the international body.