The UN has long since abandoned its charter, in becoming the chief enabler of cruddy dictatorships. The rob-from-the-poor, give-to-the-rich-and-bloodthirsty Oil-For-Terror program is fast becoming the world's greatest international scandal, all-time.
It's a matter of time now, before the corrupt fiefdom of Kofi Annan comes tumbling the rest of the way down. I would say the USA should walk away from this disaster, and form a new international coalition, but I think the EU would rejoice at this notion. Then, there would be nobody
left to oppose and expose the chicanery of France and Germany, among others.
Annan's Son Took Payments Through 2004
BY CLAUDIA ROSETT - Special to the Sun
November 26, 2004
One of the next big chapters in the United Nations oil-for-food scandal will involve the family of the secretary-general, Kofi Annan, whose son turns out to have been receiving payments as recently as early this year from a key contractor in the oil-for-food program.
The secretary-general's son, Kojo Annan, was previously reported to have worked for a Swiss-based company called Cotecna Inspection Services SA, which from 1998-2003 held a lucrative contract with the U.N. to monitor goods arriving in Saddam Hussein's Iraq under the oil-for-food program. But investigators are now looking into new information suggesting that the younger Annan received far more money over a much longer period, even after his compensation from Cotecna had reportedly ended.
The importance of this story involves not only undisclosed conflicts of interest, but the question of the role of the secretary-general himself, at a time when talk is starting to be heard around the U.N. that it is time for him to resign, and the staff labor union is in open rebellion against "senior management."
"What other bombshells are out there being hidden from the public and U.N. member governments?" asked an investigator on Rep. Henry Hyde's International Relations Committee, which has held hearings on oil-for-food.
The younger Annan stopped working for Cotecna in late 1998, but it now turns out that he continued to receive money from Cotecna not only through 1999, as recently reported, but right up until February of this year. The timing coincides with the entire duration of Cotecna's work for the U.N. oil-for-food program. It now appears the payments to the younger Annan ended three months after the U.N., in November, 2003, closed out its role in oil-for-food and handed over the remains of the program to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.
This latest bombshell involving the secretary-general's son was confirmed Wednesday by Kofi Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, in response to this reporter's query, based on information obtained elsewhere. In an email, Mr. Eckhard wrote: "I was able to reach Kojo's lawyer this morning. He confirms that Kojo Annan received payments from Cotecna as recently as February 2004. The lawyer said that these payments were part of a standard non-competition agreement, under which the decision as to whether to continue the payments or not was up to Cotecna."
Mr. Eckhard added that, according to Kojo Annan's lawyer, the information has "been reported" to the U.N.-authorized inquiry into oil-for-food, led by a former Federal Reserve chairman, Paul Volcker.
Labeled as compensation for Kojo Annan's agreeing not to compete with Cotecna's business in West Africa, the post-employment payments were in the amount of $2,500 per month, according to another source with access to the documents. If the payments were continuous over the slightly more than five-year period involved, that would have totaled more than $150,000.
Cotecna officials, who this past April received a gag letter from the U.N. Secretariat, did not respond to queries from The New York Sun about why the company continued its non-competition payments to Kojo Annan for more than five years, instead of the one year previously reported. Neither did the company answer a question about why the payments apparently stopped this past February - just after the oil-for-food scandal erupted into the headlines following allegations in a Baghdad newspaper that the program was massively corrupt. Cotecna earlier this year denied any wrongdoing, saying that Kojo Annan's portfolio involved West Africa, not the U.N. or Iraq. Kojo Annan's lawyer at the London-based firm Schillings said the younger Annan is cooperating with the Volcker inquiry, but would not comment to the press on his payments from Cotecna.
The question now is whether Mr. Volcker, whose investigative brief includes not only criminal acts such as graft, but also U.N. maladministration under oil-for-food, will look closely at the evasions and contradictions that have come from the secretary-general himself regarding the money received by his son from Cotecna.
The pattern in this scandal has been that Secretary-General Annan, until confronted by the press, has either failed to spot or failed to disclose timely information about Cotecna's paychecks for his son. The first bout came back in early 1999, two years into Kofi Annan's watch as secretary-general. Cotecna had just won the U.N. oil-for-food contract, replacing a British firm, Lloyd's Register. News broke January 24, 1999, in the Sunday Telegraph, that Kojo Annan had worked for Cotecna. The U.N. produced an internal report, shown this year to the New York Times, but never publicly released, which found no wrongdoing, but evidently failed to note that Kojo Annan was still receiving payments from Cotecna.
About that same time, in February 1999, a U.N. spokesman, John Mills, told the press that Secretary-General Annan had had no knowledge of Cotecna being hired by the U.N., that Cotecna's bid for the job was the lowest "by a significant margin," and that, "This contract was treated at every stage as a routine commercial matter and in line with the rules and regulations of the United Nations" - a statement later contradicted by one of the U.N.'s own secret internal audits, which leaked this past spring.
In March of this year, with the U.N. oil-for-food scandal by then on the boil, the U.N. was questioned again by the press about Kojo Annan's relations with Cotecna. The answer at that stage from the secretary-general's office was that the younger Annan had worked on Cotecna's staff from December 1995 through February 1998, and a few weeks later became a consultant for Cotecna, resigning in early December of 1998, about three weeks before Cotecna won the U.N. contract. This was offered by Secretary-General Annan's office as evidence that the younger Annan had severed his ties with Cotecna before the company got the U.N. job. A source familiar with the documents now says that Kojo's consultancy with Cotecna expired the same day the company got the U.N. contract, December 31, 1998.
Outside investigations in recent months have added to the timeline, raising yet more questions. In September of this year, The Wall Street Journal reported that even after Kojo Annan's Cotecna consultancy ended in 1998,he continued to receive payments from Cotecna through the end of 1999, as well as having use over that same period of a company credit card. This report is confirmed by a letter, seen by this reporter, written January 11, 1999, by Cotecna CEO Robert Massey, beginning "Dear Mr. Annan" and outlining the terms of a $2,500 per month "compensatory indemnity" in return for Kojo Annan's agreement to "refrain from any similar consultancy or employment."
Now comes this latest information that Kojo Annan continued to receive payments until February 26 of this year - more than five years longer than the U.N. initially implied, four years longer than the U.N. confirmed to the press this September, and for the entire duration of Cotecna's U.N. oil-for-food contracts.
So far, the secretary-general has refused requests from Congress for inter views with U.N. staff, or access to the U.N.'s 55 internal audits of the oil-for food program. One of those internal audits, which leaked this past May, noted serious irregularities with the U.N.'s handling of the Cotecna contract, including an "inappropriate" upward revision of Cotecna's lowball $4.87 million bid, just four days after Cotecna and the U.N. signed the deal.
At every turn, the saga of the secretary-general's family ties to Cotecna raises questions about Kofi Annan's handling of potential conflicts of interest. Even if Mr. Annan cannot be held
responsible for the decisions of his son, his job does entail responsibility for the actions of the U.N. Secretariat. As the oil-for-food scandal has unfolded, it has become clear that U.N. secrecy and lack of accountability evolved, in effect, into complicity with Saddam's scams and influence-buying. By now, between congressional and other investigations, there are allegations that Saddam, on Mr. Annan's watch, under U.N. sanctions and oil-for-food supervision, scammed and smuggled some $17.3 billion in oil money meant for relief, using some of that money to fund terrorism, import weapons, and buy influence with Security Council members France, Russia, and China.
On top of that, only now is it learned that for fully more than eight years, from 1995-2004, the secretary-general's son was in one way or another on the payroll of Cotecna, which for almost five of those years held a crucial oil-for-food inspection contract with the U.N. Secretariat. All this, said the investigator for Mr. Hyde's congressional committee, is good reason why "the U.N. Secretariat should move swiftly to lift the gag order on U.N. employees and contractors and publicly release its oil-for-food program files."
Firm's Checks to Annan's Son Went on for Years-UN
1 hour, 24 minutes ago World - Reuters
By Irwin Arieff
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The son of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) got monthly payments more than four years longer than was previously known from a Swiss firm that won a lucrative contract under the scandal-ridden U.N. oil-for-food program, the United Nations (news - web sites) said on Friday.
Kojo Annan, the U.N. leader's son, was paid $2,500 monthly -- a total of $125,000 -- by Geneva-based Cotecna from the beginning of 2000 through last February, as part of an agreement not to compete with Cotecna in West Africa after he left the firm, U.N. chief spokesman Fred Eckhard said.
There have been no specific charges of wrongdoing on the part of the secretary-general in the world body's December 1998 award to Cotecna of a multimillion-dollar contract to monitor Iraqi imports under the oil-for-food program.
But the disclosure of the extra years of payments renewed questions about conflicts of interest and left Annan and his staff looking inept in their handling of the matter.
The program, which let Iraq (news - web sites) export oil and use the proceeds to buy food and other goods despite a U.N. ban on oil sales, was shut down after last year's U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Congressional investigators say Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s regime reaped over $21 billion from kickbacks and oil smuggling before and during the time the now-defunct program was in operation.
But most allegations center on private companies and governments and not on Annan or the United Nations.
The additional 50 months of payments to Kojo Annan were disclosed in Friday's New York Sun newspaper. It said the information had been confirmed by his lawyer.
ANNAN DENIES WRONGDOING
The United Nations had previously disclosed that Kojo Annan was given monthly $2,500 payments only through the end of 1999 after leaving Cotecna at the end of 1998. Cotecna approved the payments just days after the contract was awarded.
Kofi Annan and the United Nations have previously denied any wrongdoing or ethical lapse in awarding the contract.
"Neither he (Kojo Annan) nor I had anything to do with the contract with Cotecna," Annan said in April. "That was done in strict accordance with U.N. rules and financial regulations."
The contract was repeatedly extended by the United Nations and ultimately shifted to the U.S.-led administration that governed Iraq after the 2003 invasion, which renewed the pact through June 2004, when a new government took over in Baghdad.
But Eckhard said on Friday that only former U.S. Federal Reserve (news - web sites) Chairman Paul Volcker, who heads an independent panel named by the United Nations to investigate the program, could now say whether any irregularities had occurred.
"We have learned in the last two or three days that this no-compete contractual arrangement lasted much longer than we had been told. We don't know why there is this discrepancy between what Cotecna told us and what now has been confirmed by Kojo Annan's lawyer," Eckhard said.
Asked whether the secretary-general had contacted his son on the matter, Eckhard declined comment. "You want to drag the son into the father's business, and the father's business is now in the hands of Mr. Volcker," he said.
Contacted in Geneva. Cotecna spokesman Seth Goldschlager said the firm had informed the Volcker panel of the payments and there was "nothing out of line or illegal" about them.
He said Cotecna won its first oil-for-food contract in 1992, before Kofi Annan led the United Nations and before Kojo Annan worked for the company.
But Saddam Hussein's government blocked that contract because it called for Cotecna to inspect all imports rather than simply ensure their paperwork was in order -- the system that ultimately prevailed in Iraq, Goldschlager said.