Kofi Annan's son implicated in Oil-for-food scam


Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday he was "very disappointed and surprised" that his son had continued to receive payments until this February from a firm that had a contract with Iraq's oil-for-food program, the subject of numerous corruption investigations.

Annan told reporters that he had been working on the understanding that payments to his son, Kojo Annan, from the Swiss-based firm Cotecna Inspection S.A. stopped in 1998 "and I had not expected that the relationship continued."

But on Friday, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said Kojo Annan's lawyer had informed the independent panel appointed by the secretary-general to investigate allegations of corruption in the oil-for-food program that the younger Annan continued to receive monthly payments through February 2004.

The disclosure was the latest embarrassment for Annan and the United Nations over the humanitarian program which was instituted in December 1996 to help Iraqis cope with sanctions imposed after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Annan on Monday stressed that his son was an independent businessman "and I don't get involved with his activities and he doesn't get involved in mine."

Annan has said his son joined Cotecna at the age of 22 as a trainee in Geneva before he became secretary-general and worked in West Africa.

The firm was hired by the United Nations on Dec. 31, 1998 to authenticate that food, medicine and other goods entering Iraq corresponded to a list of goods approved for import.

In a statement in April, Cotecna said Kojo Annan's full-time employment -- which focused entirely on its activities in Nigeria and Ghana and had nothing to do with the oil-for-food program -- began in 1995 and ended in December 1997 after which he was retained as a consultant until early 1999. It did not mention any further payments.

The United Nations previously said Kojo Annan stopped receiving monthly payments from Cotecna at the end of 1999. But Eckhard said Friday he continued to be paid because he had an open-ended no-compete contract which allows an employee who leaves a company to receive money to ensure he won't set up a competing company.

"There is nothing illegal in this," Eckhard said. Also, continuing investigations by the U.S. Congress and the United Nations have not shown any wrongdoing by Cotecna.

Cotecna spokeswoman Ginny Wolfe said Kojo Annan was paid $2,500-a-month "to prevent him from working for any of their competitors in Africa" which she described as a very competitive market.

"Kojo Annan's sole responsibilities were in Africa," she said. "He had nothing to do with any U.N. discussions and work."

U.S. Ambassador John Danforth discussed the oil-for-food investigations with the secretary-general on Monday and was asked afterward whether the United States still has confidence in Annan.

"I don't think the U.S. government rushes to judgment until all the facts are in," he said, urging that the investigation be exhaustive and reveal all the facts to avoid any charges of a cover-up.

Five U.S. congressional panels have been pressing the independent inquiry headed by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker to hand over internal U.N. documents for their own oil-for-food probes. But Volcker told the Senate that his panel won't hand over documents until its investigative reports are issued starting in January.

Danforth said "everything should be handed over to the congressional committees ... as quickly as possible."

The oil-for-food program allowed Saddam's regime to sell unlimited quantities of oil provided the money went primarily to buy humanitarian goods and pay reparations to victims of the 1991 Gulf War.

Annan reiterated that he has "no involvement with granting of contracts, either on this Cotecna one or others."

But the secretary-general said he understood "the perception problem for the U.N., or the perception of conflict of interests and wrongdoing."

Eckhard said both Cotecna and Kojo Annan's lawyers had informed the United Nations that they have turned over information to the independent inquiry headed by Volcker.

"To the extent that there's an allegation of the awarding of this contract and the secretary-general's son, leave that to Volcker to investigate," Eckhard said. "We feel there is not. We have looked into it and we can find no evidence, but it's not for us to judge now, it's for Mr. Volcker to judge."

Annan told reporters Monday he spoke to his son after learning that he had been paid through February, "but I really don't want to get into this."

Asked whether he was disappointed and angry with his son for taking the money and not disclosing it, Annan replied: "Naturally I was very disappointed and surprised, yes."

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Well, I can't say I'm surprised. The UN is a horrible, corrupt organisation which, aside from the security council (which is run by & for UK, US, FR, RU & CN), seems to be run for the benefit of keeping 3rd world dictators in power by giving food aid to their countries, which they can distribute and claim that they obtained this food because they're god's messengers, or they bought it for them out of their own pockets, some other crappy cover story...

/proudly wears a t-shirt which says "UNITED NATIONS: keeping third world dictators in caviar since 1945"
I wonder who didn't get his cut and bubbled the corrupt b*stard.

I believe that daddy didn't know.

Duck, flying pigs..
Cnuts. alot of people are starving to death because these feckers are the greediest of them all. I dont beleive Kofi didnt know anything about it either, I doubt he will be that poor when he retires also. Just the same as any Politician more interested in themselves than the people they serve.
CNUTS. :evil:
To the Left, Kofi Annan is whiter than white 8O :mrgreen:

It's quite well known that much of the food aid gets channelled to the ruling régimes, but it's conveniently ignored. Apparently 90% of the Band Aid/Live Aid food [see Band Aid thread] went via the Ethiopian régime & was used to prosecute their war, with only small percentages reaching the people for whom it was intended. There is no reason to believe that this is atypical of other food aid programmes.
I trust sumone will correct me if I am wrong but wasn't, Annan, Clintons choice when The Eygptian, Butros Burtos Gaili, was found to be too friendly with the Somail warlords, or at least thought they had sum sort of case. Mind you memory also says that Annan had already F-D up where Sebrinicea and Ruwanda where conncerned or I am out on my time line.
Because the people with the most clout look after their own interests first.
woody said:
why dosent the un work ?
Because it has to pander to Arab/African/ Western/eastern power blocs to prevent the whole gravy boat from sinking. It justifies the compromises by claiming to do some good that otherwise wouldn't be done and by providing the illusion of a worldwide political forum. The US ignores it, to a large degree, which removes any cojones it ever had.

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