March 22, 2004

Oil for Food corruption - update

Earlier, I linked to an article by Claudia Rosett in the Wall Street Journal. Now, writing in the National Review, she has been doing some more digging around and finds that the corruption strikes close to the top - very close to the top. Meet Kojo Annan - son of Kofi Annan: bq. With United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan finally conceding the need for an independent investigation of the U.N.'s 1996-2003 Oil-for-Food program in Iraq, the next question is how investigators might begin to get a grip on the U.N.'s central role in this huge scandal. And more: bq. It would also be prudent, if only to clear up any doubts, for investigators to look into the relationship between Annan's son, Kojo Annan, and the Swiss-based company, Cotecna Inspection SA, which two years into the seven-year Oil-for-Food program won a contract from the U.N. for the pivotal job of inspecting all Oil-for-Food shipments into Iraq a responsibility Cotecna has held ever since. Kojo Annan worked for Cotecna in the mid-1990s, a possible conflict of interest which neither Cotecna nor the U.N. bothered to declare. It's a longish article so I'm cherry-picking a few excerpts. Here, she is writing about where to start in a proposed investigation and why that may prove difficult: bq. In any event, the first practical step should be to secure the U.N.'s own records of Oil-for-Food. In Baghdad, Oil-for-Food-related documents kept by Saddam have already proven a source of damning information and are under investigation. The Iraqi Governing Council has already commissioned a report by the private accounting firm KPMG International, due out in a few months. And U.S. administrators in Baghdad have now frozen the records there relating to Oil-for-Food, to help with congressional inquiries in advance of hearings expected next month. bq. But at the U.N.'s New York headquarters, not all records have been rendered up. The U.N. treasurer's office still controls the Oil-for-Food bank accounts, held in the French bank, BNP Paribas. And, the U.N. still has in its keeping all U.N. records of these BNP accounts, according to officials both in Baghdad and at the U.N. More on the UN accounts themselves - how much? bq. Through these accounts passed more than $100 billion in U.N.-approved oil sales and relief purchases made by Saddam, and toward the end of the U.N.'s administration of Oil-for-Food, they held balances of more than $12 billion. Has the money been disbursed properly? bq. Outside the U.N. these bank accounts have long been a source of some mystery. The U.N. has refused to disclose BNP statements, or the amount of interest paid on those balances of billions. Even such directly concerned parties as the Kurdish regional authorities of northern Iraq entitled to 13 percent of the proceeds of Saddam's Oil-for-Food sales who for years have been requesting a look at the books, have received no details. Excellent in-depth study of the corruption at the heart of the U.N. Posted by DaveH at March 22, 2004 3:53 PM