It’s very disappointing that the committee didn’t disclose any information on Kojo or Kofi Annan in last week’s report

Findings on Kofi and Kojo Delayed

Readers will find many interesting tidbits in last week’s interim report from the U.N. committee investigating corruption in the Oil for Food program. But they won’t find a single word addressing possible wrongdoing by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan or his son, Kojo.

Recall that Kojo Annan worked for a time for Cotecna, a Swiss company that sought lucrative contract to inspect goods being shipped into Iraq under the Oil for Food program. Kojo worked for the company for only a few months, but just days after he left, the United Nations gave Cotecna the multi-million dollar contract it wanted.

While Kojo has maintained that he had nothing to do with the contract, reports surfaced late last year that Cotecna was still paying Kojo $3,000 per month right up until just days before U.S. forces entered Iraq in 2003. Other reports have fueled suspicions that Kojo helped Cotecna secure the contract, and many have speculated that if Kojo was involved, his father also must have intervened. According to news reports, Volcker and his team have interviewed the Secretary General at least three times. Nevertheless, Kofi Annan has maintained that he had no knowledge of his son’s relationship with Cotecna and that Kojo’s relationship did not impact the U.N.’s choice.

The Kofi-Kojo-Cotecna story has been the most intriguing and headline-grabbing aspect of the Oil for Food scandal. After all, if the Secretary General, himself, is implicated, the repercussions for the United Nations will be devastating. That’s why many were expecting that the Volcker Committee’s interim report would, at the very least, begin to address the questions of the Annans’ involvement with the Cotecna contract.

But in releasing the report, Volcker made it clear that his investigators were still digging and, as a result, this interim report included nothing on the subject. Instead, Volcker promised a second interim report in a few weeks that would focus on the Cotecna contract and pronounce findings about the Secretary General and his son.

Since that announcement, the Associated Press has reported that Volcker’s investigators are reviewing Kofi Annan’s telephone records, e-mail and other communications. They have also seized and are reviewing all of his files.

At this point, more is unknown about this aspect of the scandal than is known, and there is little choice but to await the Volcker committee’s next report. Nevertheless, given the significance of these allegations and the time and resources already poured into the investigation, it’s very disappointing that the committee didn’t disclose any information on Kofi or Kojo in last week’s report.

Let’s hope that this is not a symptom of a larger problem

February 10, 2005
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