Paul Volckers inquiry into the UNs Oil-for-Food program "is urgently reviewing newly disclosed information concerning possible links between UN Secretary-General Kofi annan and representatives of Cotecna Inspection Services, a Swiss contractor based in Geneva that bid for contracts under the Oil-for-Food Program while the Secretary General's son, Kojo annan, was a consultant for the company," said IICs spokesman, Michael Holtzman, in a statement issued Tuesday.
Cotecna did not only bid for contracts under the Oil-for-Food program, but was awarded the U.S. $10 million dollar-a-year humanitarian contract to "conduct inspection services" for the program beginning December 31, 1998. Cotecna held the contract for five years until the Oil-for-Food Program was shut down in November 2003.
according to Volckers second interim report, Kofis son, Kojo, reported receiving "approximately $582, 603 in payments that are from Cotecna or "possibly" from Cotecna. Of this amount $154,901 are payments related to fees and expenses incurred prior to 1999." In relation to Cotecna, Volckers Committee concluded "Cotecna has made false statements to the public, the United Nations and the Committee."
Kofi annan has repeatedly denied any involvement with the Cotecna contract.
New York Times, Judith Miller, reported on Tuesday, "a memo written by someone who was then an executive of a major contractor in the United Nations Oil-for-Food program states that he briefly discussed the company's effort to win the contract in late 1998 with Secretary General Kofi annan and his "entourage" and that the executive was told that "we could count on their support."
Last March, Volckers committee found "that all the evidence is not reasonably sufficient to show that the Secretary-General knew that Cotecna had submitted a bid on the humanitarian inspection contract in 1998."
Volckers findings prompted two of his investigators to resign. Canadas, Reid Morden, Volckers Executive Director, and chief investigator, was not among them. On april 23, associated Press reported Robert Parton and Miranda Duncan "had left after disagreeing with how [Volckers] committee handled facts that were uncovered concerning annans dealings with a Swiss company contracted under the program, which once employed annans son, Kojo."
Kofi annan appointed Paul Volcker, in april 2004, to head up the inquiry into the Oil-for-Food Program. Kofi annans #2, Canadas Louise Fréchette formerly worked for Prime Minister Paul Martin and Volckers #2, Canadas Reid Morden. Repeated calls to Reid Morden have so far not been returned. as CFP previously reported, Canada, the UNs seventh largest donor, will not investigate the Oil-for-Food program. France and Switzerland have recently joined the United States and opened their own inquires into Oil-for-Food.
Marinka Peschmann is a freelance writer whose first book collaboration, the best-selling The Kid Stays In The Picture; was made into a documentary. She's contributed to several books and stories ranging from showbiz and celebrities to true crime and politics.