Roger L. Simon

UPDATE: Oil-for-Resignations

Key UN Oil-for-Food investigator Robert Parton, whose resignation several days ago was first reported on this blog, is going public with his accusations toward the Volcker Committee in two news reports this evening, one from the AP and one from the Telegraph.

Says the AP’s Desmond Butler:

The investigator, Robert Parton, confirmed a report by The Associated Press earlier this week that he had resigned along with another investigator to protest recent findings by the committee that cleared U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan of meddling in the $64 billion program.

Parton’s statement comes after a member of the committee discounted reports that the two investigators had left the Independent Inquiry Committee because they believed the report was too soft on the secretary-general.

“Contrary to recent published reports, I resigned my position as Senior Investigative Counsel for the IIC not because my work was complete but on principle,” Parton said.

From the Telegraph:

Last night, in the most explicit criticism so far directed at the report, Robert Parton, one of the senior investigators, told a lawyer involved with the Volcker inquiry that he thought the committee was “engaging in a de facto cover-up, acting with good intentions but steered by ideology”.

The lawyer, Adrian Gonzalez, told The Sunday Telegraph that he believed the committee, headed by Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was determined to protect the secretary-general.

According to Mr Gonzalez, Mr Parton felt that the committee had effectively divided the body of evidence relating to the oil-for-food scandal into testimony that it did want to hear, and testimony that it did not.

Much of what the Telegraph has to say is already familiar to readers of this blog, but now Parton has gone public. Undoubtedly, there will be more to come as other members of the committee have their say — some of which may conflict with Parton and some not.

Meanwhile, Adrian Gonzalez has informed me that he was misquoted to some degree by the Telegraph. Gonzalez, the attorney for former Kojo Annan business partner Pierre Mousselli, says he has not spoken directly with Parton in some days and that Telegraph has exaggerated their report to some degree. Parton, Gonzalez believes, would not be so explicit in his criticisms. The reference to the “de facto coverup” were Gonzalez’s words, not Parton’s, although they may reflect the resigned investigator’s feelings. In fact, in the end they don’t seem so it odds with what what the investigator already told the Associated Press. He resigned “on principle.”

However you parse this, the Volcker Committee is a now an unmitigated disaster. Just as it is ludicrous to think that Kofi Annan is the one to reform the United Nations, it is ludicrous to think this committee the means to investigate the scandal.

UPDATE: Another source inside the investigation has emailed me to say, among other things, that there is little coordination between the investigative teams (Parton, Duncan and Cornacchia were but one of several units not communicating with each other) and that there is “no coherent management plan.”