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February 15, 2005
Kojo And Benan About To Star In Senate Investigation

The Washington Times reports this morning that the Senate investigation into the Oil-For-Food program led by Norm Coleman will highlight much more active roles for Kojo Annan and Benon Sevan in the corruption than Paul Volcker's interim report suggested. Annan played a more significant role with Cotecna than Volcker reported:

Kojo Annan, the son of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, played a far more extensive role than previously revealed in a company that won a key contract under the scandal-plagued Iraq oil-for-food program, Senate investigators have learned. ...

Cotecna, the Switzerland-based firm that employed Kojo Annan as a consultant, won a major contract to inspect oil-for-food shipments in late 1998. The company never disclosed the younger Mr. Annan's relationship in the bidding for the contract, and has insisted that his work was restricted to two African countries and never dealt with Iraq.

But Mr. Annan, in a letter to Cotecna executives just months before the contract was awarded, wrote of putting in place for the company "a 'machinery' which will be centered in New York that will facilitate the continuation of contacts established and assist in developing new contacts in the future."

"This machinery, due to its global nature and its longevity, is as important overall as any other contacts [we have] made," he continued. ... Kojo Annan, interviewed by committee investigators at an undisclosed location on Friday, told them that he could not recall the nature of the "machinery" he had mentioned in his memo, why it was to be based in New York and why it would be global in nature.

This comes after the revelations earlier on from the Senate panel that Cotecna kept paying UN chief Kofi Annan's son long after he supposedly left the company, a stipend of $2500 every month until it was exposed. Both Annans supposedly have cooperated with investigators, or so earlier reports have indicated, but Annan's responses don't sound as if that cooperation runs to any depth. In fact, the Times' source on the panel expressed significant disappointment with Kojo while briefing reporters yesterday.

Needless to say, Benon Sevan hasn't cooperated at all, and understandably so. While Paul Volcker could only find a suspicious $160,000 windfall purportedly from Sevan's aunt, who lived on very modest means, the Senate investigators have found much more:

But Senate investigators yesterday displayed letters written by Iraqi oil officials both under Saddam and after his regime fell in 2003 that listed Mr. Sevan himself as the recipient of the oil allocations, which were then passed along to the Panamanian company. One Iraqi document put Mr. Sevan's proceeds from an allocation of 9.3 million barrels of crude oil at $1.2 million.

"What we have uncovered suggests that Benon Sevan himself got the commissions that came from passing along the oil allocations," said a Senate staffer.

Wow -- I wonder how Volcker managed to miss those? Could it be that the UN's internal investigation, which reports directly to Kofi Annan himself, might have some strings attached? Sevan, one of Kofi's closest associates, and Kojo appear to have skated past Paul Volcker in his work. Since Sevan ran the Oil-For-Food program directly under Kofi and Kojo obviously has an even stronger connection, it appears that Paul Volcker's work has a lot less independence -- or a much lower ability, at any rate -- to find the truth about the largest corruption case in history.

Kofi Annan should resign. He won't, of course, and the member states will once again issue paeans to his leadership. That demonstrates that this corruption is no anomaly at Turtle Bay, but it exemplifies the way people expect to do business at the UN.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 15, 2005 5:36 AM

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» Kojo Annan and Benan Sevan Update from Myopic Zeal
I don't have time to dig into this this morning, but Ed Morissey has an update on the UNSCAM investigation. Check it out. ... [Read More]

Tracked on February 15, 2005 7:26 AM

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