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June 14, 2005
Second Cotecna OFF Memo Links Bid Win To Kofi Annan

The AP reported earlier tonight that a second Cotecna memo has surfaced, also written by Annan family friend and Cotecna VP Michael Wilson, which assured company executives that Cotecna would win the bid through "quiet but effective lobbying". The new memo appears to follow right after the previously-released memo describes the meeting Wilson had with the Secretary General where the UN executive told Wilson he could "count on his suppport":

The committee probing the U.N. oil-for-food program announced Tuesday it will again investigate Secretary-General Kofi Annan after two e-mails suggested he may have known more than he claimed about a multimillion-dollar U.N. contract awarded to the company that employed his son.

One e-mail described an encounter between Annan and officials from Cotecna Inspection S.A. in late 1998 during which the Swiss company's bid for the contract was raised. The second from the same Cotecna executive expressed his confidence that the company would get the bid because of "effective but quiet lobbying" in New York diplomatic circles.

If accurate, the new details would cast doubt on a major finding the U.N.-backed Independent Inquiry Committee made in March that there wasn't enough evidence to show that Annan knew about efforts by Cotecna, which employed his son Kojo, to win the
Iraq oil-for-food contract. The Associated Press obtained the e-mails Tuesday.

Through his spokesman, Annan said he didn't remember the late 1998 meeting. He repeatedly has insisted that he didn't know Cotecna was pursuing a contract with the oil-for-food program.

According to British newspapers The Guardian and The Telegraph, the latest revelation has the OFF inquiry back on Annan's doorstep. The Guardian report clarifies the relationship between Wilson and the Annans and also shows the close proximity of the memos to the contract award:

The document is a memo from Michael Wilson, the vice-president of Cotecna Inspection SA, which employed Mr Annan's son Kojo. ... The Associated Press last night reported that a second memo from Mr Wilson had come to light expressing his confidence Cotecna would get the bid because of "effective but quiet lobbying" in New York diplomatic circles.

Mr Wilson is a childhood friend of Kojo Annan's and reportedly refers to Kofi Annan as "uncle". His memo was dated December 4 1998. A week later the company won the contract.

The two memos, buried until now within Cotecna's archives, have reinvigorated the investigation into the UN chief's role in OFF corruption. Even though Kojo Annan's relationship with Cotecna has been well documented, until now no overt act involving his father and Cotecna executives. Kofi himself swore that he had no dealings with either Cotecna in terms of the OFF program or any other vendors, claiming that Benon Sevan handled all program contacts.

Paul Volcker, who heads the UN inquiry which reports directly to Kofi Annan, accepted his statement as truth. Now with these memos floating to the surface, Annan's statement has been exposed as obviously false, and at least as far as Wilson was concerned at the time, his meeting with Cotecna was instrumental in landing them the OFF contract a week later. This not only exposes Kofi as an untruthful witness, but also makes Volcker look like a fool and a lackey of the Secretary-General.

The corruption now officially reaches the top of the organization. Kofi has no credibility to continue the investigation as an internal effort with Volcker as his deputy. Annan's involvement in the Cotecna memos and Volcker's rush to trust him despite the objections of two lead investigators have destroyed the Volcker probe. Nothing that Annan or his circle of advisors touches can be considered clean any more.

If Annan does not step down as a result of these revelations, it will fall to Congress to use its subpoena power to bypass Volcker and Annan and start issuing indictments for the corruption within OFF. Congress should also cut off all United Nations funding -- every last cent -- until Annan resigns his position. Our assets should not fund his crimes or coverups any longer.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 14, 2005 10:11 PM

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