Tags: Kofi | Annan | Not | Out | the | Woods

Kofi Annan Not Out of the Woods

Wednesday, 30 March 2005 12:00 AM

It coincides with allegations of sex abuse by U.N. peacekeepers and mismanagement by senior U.N. staff.

A key conclusion was that Kofi Annan never interfered in the awarding of the contract to Cotecna, but should have better investigated possible conflicts of interest after a newspaper had reported the link between Kojo and Cotecna in January 1999.

Cotecna was hired by the U.N. to inspect Iraqi imports to ensure that Security Council sanctions were not violated and that goods that were paid for were in fact being delivered. The firm has been plagued by charges of corruption in its Iraqi operations - accusations that follow bribery allegations concerning its operations in Pakistan.

The Volcker report, while raising serious questions about Cotecna's activities and the employment of Annan's son Kojo, found no evidence of any "criminal" activity by the U.N. secretary-general.

That finding was enough for Annan and his chief of staff Mark Malloch Brown to call an ad hoc news conference at U.N. headquarters.

"The secretary-general has been exonerated; it is now time to move on. The secretary-general will no longer subject himself to interrogations by the press corps," said Malloch Brown.

The "chief de cabinet" downplayed an additional finding in the Volcker report criticizing Annan for serious lapses in judgement in how he handled rumors of corruption in the U.N. program.

When CNN correspondent Richard Roth asked Annan if he had any intention of resigning, the U.N. chief barked, "Hell no!"

He then stormed out of the packed briefing room.

Watching the U.N. spin-control was Pieth, who says the U.N. chief is drawing conclusions that were not in the Volcker report.

In fact, he told NewsMax he found it hard to believe that the secretary-general had no knowledge about the extent of his son's involvement with Cotecna. "They (Kofi and Kojo) spoke all the time; they are father and son. The issue (of Cotecna) rarely came up?"

Volcker's report also criticized Annan's recently-retired chief of staff, Iqbal Riza, for authorizing the destruction of three years' worth of documents over the past year, documents that might have impacted the Oil for Food investigation.

"His (Riza's) office is next door to the secretary-general's, and he never knew of the destruction of the documents?" Pieth asked, incredulously.

Pieth made it clear that while the Volcker panel did clear Annan of any criminal activity, his management of the investigation and of the U.N. itself was a different matter. "We did not give him a clean bill of health (on management). Anyone who says so is not right," he added.

NewsMax also has learned that Annan may need to address additional problems in the near future. A new scandal involving charges of sexual harassment by a "senior" U.N. official is about to surface, say staffers.

That would come on the heels of the resignation of former U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers, who recently vacated his post amid allegations of "sexual" misconduct. The U.N.'s chief internal affairs investigator, Dilip Nair, is also awaiting U.N. disciplinary action against repeated charges of sexual harassment.

Annan deputy Malloch Brown told the U.N. press corps that action against Nair "was inevitable," though exactly what will be done was not disclosed.

The younger Annan, whom Volcker described as "less than cooperative," may bring additional problems for his father in the coming weeks, NewsMax has learned. Kojo, whom the secretary-general has described as "having nothing to do with the U.N.," may have some explaining to do.

Apparently, the younger Annan paid a visit to New York City in mid-December and stayed at his father's official U.N. residence, though the secretary-general was not in town. The younger Annan may have been in New York to meet members of the Volcker investigative team.

If so, Annan, who has not offered any compensation to the U.N. for the use of the residence, would have used U.N. funds to finance the visit. That would seem to contradict his father's proclamations that Kojo has had nothing to do with the United Nations.

The December visit came after two previous "private" visits to the residence over the last two years in which Kojo hosted "parties" or "social gatherings" for his New York friends.

Those "parties" drew the concern of the U.N.'s security department, since Kojo refused to disclose the identities of his "guests," which numbered more than a dozen, say U.N. officials.

As a rule, U.N. security normally asks for the names of all visitors to the secretary-general's residence.

"As a matter of protection, we are supposed to have the names of all visitors. Kojo brought in all these friends and we had no idea who they were. We had strangers roaming through the house. When we (security officers at the home) complained, it went nowhere," said one U.N. security officer.

In both instances, the elder Annan was out of town.

Kojo offered no compensation to the United Nations for his "personal gatherings" at the official residence.

Annan's office refused comment on such "private" matters.

Lamenting Kofi Annan's tribulations, press spokesman Fred Eckhard confessed: "This is like death through a thousand cuts."

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It coincides with allegations of sex abuse by U.N. peacekeepers and mismanagement by senior U.N. staff. A key conclusion was that Kofi Annan never interfered in the awarding of the contract to Cotecna, but should have better investigated possible conflicts of interest...
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Wednesday, 30 March 2005 12:00 AM
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