Roger L. Simon

Oil-for-Food - Here We Go Again

It’s no secret that this blog has been especially interested in the UN Oil-for-Food Scandal. Today, the Financial Times has a story (via LGF) that corroborates some information this blog is not yet at liberty to disclose. More, I hope, will be coming from here soon–from “sources close to the investigation,” as the saying goes. Meanwhile, here’s the crux of the FT story:

Kojo Annan, son of Kofi Annan, United Nations secretary-general, received at least $300,000 from Cotecna, a Swiss inspection company awarded a contract ultimately worth about $60m under the Iraqi oil-for-food contract.

The amount was almost double the sum previously disclosed, but payments were arranged in ways that obscured where the money came from or whom it went to.

Oops… Meanwhile…

[The Volcker Commission] findings, expected next Tuesday, will address allegations that Kojo’s family connections may have helped Cotecna obtain the UN contract.

Kojo Annan worked for Cotecna in Nigeria until December 1997. He was later retained first as a consultant and then on an unusual “non-compete” contract. Cotecna categorically denies any impropriety.

It insists his work had nothing to do with the UN contract and that it never took advantage of Kojo’s access to the secretary-general.

But the FT/Il Sole investigation reveals that senior executives from Cotecna met Kofi Annan on various occasions once at his UN office.

A UN spokesman said the meetings had nothing to do with a contract awarded under the oil-for-food programme. Kojo Annan declined to comment.

In November Kofi Annan said he was “very disappointed and surprised” after it emerged that Kojo had received monthly “non-compete” payments from Cotecna four years after the relationship was believed to have ended.

How “disappointed” and how “surprised” remain to be seen. As I pointed out earlier today, it’s no accident Kofi promulgated his “UN reform package” in advance of the Volcker findings. Afterwards, I wonder if anyone will be listening.