U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan: A Man of Principle?
Articles here and here have raised fresh questions about U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s behavior in the oil-for-food program controversy.
The first article notes:
Investigators of the U.N. oil-for-food program said Tuesday they are “urgently reviewing” new information that suggests U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan may have known more than he revealed about a contract that was awarded to the company that employed his son.
The December 1998 memo from Michael Wilson, then a vice president of Cotecna Inspections S.A., mentions brief discussions with Annan “and his entourage” at a summit in Paris in 1998 about Cotecna’s bid for a $10 million-a-year contract under oil-for-food.
If accurate, the memo could contradict a major finding of the Independent Inquiry Committee – that there wasn’t enough evidence to show that Annan knew about efforts by Cotecna, which employed his son, Kojo, to win the contract. Cotecna learned it won the contract on Dec. 11, 1998, days after the meeting.
The statement from the Independent Inquiry Committee, led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, said it would “conduct additional investigation regarding this new information.”…
Both Annans also deny any link between Kojo Annan’s employment and the awarding of the U.N. contract to the company…
The memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, Wilson said he “had brief discussions with (Kofi Annan) and his entourage” about Cotecna’s effort to win the contract.
Cotecna “could count on their support,” Wilson wrote.
The memo, dated Dec. 4, 1998, was written a week before the company won the U.N. contract…
In an interim report in March, Volcker’s committee accused Cotecna and Kojo Annan of trying to conceal their relationship after the firm was awarded the contract.
It said Kofi Annan didn’t properly investigate possible conflicts of interest surrounding the contract, but cleared him of trying to influence the awarding of Cotecna’s contract or violating U.N. rules.
The second article notes:
…evidence, obtained by FOX News, appears to contradict Annan’s claim that he knew nothing about the awarding of a major Oil-for-Food contract to a company that employed his son.
Kojo Annan worked for Cotecna Inspection Services, a Swiss firm which won one of the most lucrative contracts in the multi-billion-dollar program.
One of Kojo Annan’s supervisors there was a man named Michael Wilson…
The secretary-general has consistently denied ever discussing the Cotecna contract with any of the company’s executives.
“I have no involvement with granting of contracts either on this Cotecna one or others,” Kofi Annan said in November.
But Cotecna has given a new document to investigators with the Independent Inquiry Committee [IIC], the U.N.-approved panel headed by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker charged with looking into corruption associated with the Oil-for-Food program.
The document is an e-mail from Wilson, the old Annan family friend, to other executives at Cotecna describing a meeting in Paris just weeks before the Oil-for-Food contract was awarded.
The e-mail refers to the U.N. Iraq Program and says: “We had brief discussions with the SG [the acronym for Secretary-General] and his entourage. Their collective advise [sic] was that we should respond as best as we could to the Q and A session of the 1-12-98 and that we could count on their support.”
The numbers “1-12-98 ” refer to a Dec. 1, 1998, meeting between Cotecna executives and U.N. officials in New York at which the contract was discussed.
Asked to explain the contradiction between this evidence and Kofi Annan’s claim never to have been involved in contract discussions, a spokesman for the secretary-general said the office was looking into it…
The e-mail from Wilson adds to doubts about Kofi Annan’s denials of familiarity with the Cotecna contract.
In March, a report from the Volcker panel concluded there was no evidence the U.N. chief tried to influence the world body’s decisions in order to benefit his son’s business interests. The panel reached its conclusion despite Annan’s own omissions about his contacts with Cotecna. [For more information, see this article.] Annan at first did not tell investigators that he had met twice with Cotecna representatives as the Swiss company began soliciting United Nations business. One investigator for Volcker reportedly was so concerned with Annan’s veracity that he sought to make note of it in the report.
But the final report toned down the language offered by Robert Parton. He and another member of the IIC quit the panel following the report’s release…
Here is another news article.
Kofi Annan has no credibility.