Roger L. Simon

Oil-for-Food --- The Canadian Connection

Who are the mysterious figures known only as U. N. officials #1 and #2 fingered by the grand jury investigating Oil-for-Food? And more importantly is anybody talking?

According to (who else?) Claudia Rosett in this morning’s NY Sun:

At the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his staff responded to questions about the identities of the mystery officials by saying they have received no information on this from federal prosecutors and are as much in the dark as anyone else. On Friday, Mr. Annan’s spokesman, Fred Eckhard, told the press: “I wish I knew. I don’t think anyone in this building knows.”

Maybe Mr. Annan should ask a longtime United Nations undersecretary general, Maurice Strong, special adviser to the secretary-general since 1999 and currently Mr. Annan’s personal envoy to the Korean Peninsula.

The New York Sun is not asserting, or even suggesting, that Mr. Strong himself is one of the U.N. officials in question. But Mr. Strong’s history indicates he might be especially well-placed to offer insights into at least the likely identity of U.N. official #2, who according to the indictment had family business ties to Canada, and along with U.N. official

#1, met with [the already indicted] Mr. Park sometime around 1996 – the year the flawed terms of oil-for-food took shape.

Mr. Strong is a Canadian tycoon with extensive experience at the United Nations, where he has served as secretary-general of the 1992 Earth Summit, as chief architect of the Kyoto Treaty, and as the world body’s guru of governance in the 1990s. Mr. Strong also has abundant connections in both North and South Korea. According to a recent dispatch from the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, Mr. Strong is also said to be acquainted with Mr. Park.

Mr. Strong could not be reached for comment on the indictment, but the Sun spoke with his U.N. assistant, who said Mr. Strong plans to issue a statement today, saying he had no involvement with the oil-for-food program.

In that event, it might also be useful for Mr. Strong to address publicly his former business association with the son of the secretary-general, Kojo Annan.

The Kyoto Treat meets Kojo Annan? Are we in the middle of a Michael Crichton novel?