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July 29, 2005
UN Undersecretary Scored Big Commercial Gains From OFF

The intrepid Claudia Rosett uncovers yet another sordid connection between United Nations executives and the corruption in the Oil-For-Food program. This time, she focuses on the former French ambassador to the UN Jean-Bernard Merimee, who served as Kofi Annan's special advisor during the OFF period with a rank of Undersecretary:

The 68-year-old Merimee, one of several individuals now under investigation in France for alleged involvement in Saddam Husseins Oil-for-Food scams, is well known for his role in the early 1990s as French ambassador to the United Nations. What investigators have not so far highlighted is that during the period Merimee is alleged to have come into commercial contact with Saddams regime, starting in December 2001, he was working not for the French government, but as a special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. ...

On these lists, the apparent mention of Jean-Bernard Merimee, transliterated from Arabic as Mr. Jan Mirami [French] turned up three times, noted as having been allocated 4 million barrels of oil during the last three of the U.N. programs 13 six-month phases a stretch beginning Dec. 1, 2001 and truncated in March 2003 when the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam. ...

According to the Duelfer report, the allocations linked to Merimees name were not performed. The Duelfer report does show the Merimee allocations linked to an oil trading company, French-based Aredio Petroleum, which also appears in the report as the alleged intermediary for a number of deals with other parties, in which oil was lifted. These include oil allocations to the Iraqi-French Friendship Society, as well as a Jordanian businessman, Fawaz Zurequat, sometime business partner of British parliamentarian George Galloway whose name also appears on the Al Mada and Duelfer lists, but who has denied receiving any oil allocations from Iraq.

It certainly seems that a number of people around Annan got wealthy from this program. His son Kojo got a nice if unspectacular stipend long after he supposedly stopped working for Cotecna. Iraqi documents show Benon Sevan, the head of OFF and an Annan crony, got millions of dollars in oil allocations. Canadian Maurice Strong, yet another "special advisor", had to leave the UN after his ties to South Korean businessman and Saddam beneficiary Tongsun Park came to light.

Now we have Merimee, and oddly enough, no one really knows when he stopped working for the UN. His name appeared in the directories until this year. However, when asked, the UN insisted that he had left Turtle Bay three years ago and his continued listing was an oversight. No announcements of his resignation or termination can be found, either in 2002 since -- highly unusual for such a high-ranking advisor at the UN.

Merimee has proven a puzzlement. If so, then we are fortunate indeed to have Claudia Rosett on the case. Read the whole thing. (via Instapundit)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 29, 2005 12:48 PM

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