US declines to give vote of confidence to UN's Annan
29 November 2004
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The US ambassador to the United Nations declined to give
a vote of confidence to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan amid an enquiry into
alleged UN fraud and corruption.
"I don't think that the United States government rushes to judgment until all
the facts are in," John Danforth said when asked if Washington still had
confidence in the embattled Annan.
"I'm not for pre-judging anything. I'm for the absolute laying out of all of the
evidence," he told reporters.
"The oil-for-food charges are very serious. If they turn out to be correct, they
do go to the integrity of the organisation," Danforth said.
The US Congress and the United Nations have ordered separate enquiries into the
oil-for-food programme, the UN aid scheme that allowed the regime of Iraqi
dictator Saddam Hussein to sell oil in exchange for humanitarian supplies.
A Baghdad newspaper in January published what it said was a list of governments
and individuals that had received pay-offs from the regime.
The report sparked international scrutiny of the now-defunct programme which
deepened last week with revelations that Annan's son Kojo had received payments
from a Swiss company linked to the scheme until February 2004.
Annan 'Disappointed' in Son's Lack of Disclosure
29 November 2004
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday he
was "disappointed" his son did not tell him the full story of his ties to a firm
involved in the U.N. oil-for-food program, now under investigation.
Annan's son, Kojo, received payments from the Geneva-based Cotecna firm until
last February after the United Nations said he severed ties with the company in
February 1999. Part of the payments involved an agreement not to compete with
Cotecna in West Africa after he left the firm.
"Naturally I was very disappointed and surprised," Annan told reporters, saying
the discrepancy had not been brought to his attention.
Cotecna had been hired by the United Nations from December 1998 until 2003 to
check civilian supplies reaching Iraq under the U.N.-administered oil-for-food
program, which is being probed for abuses by Saddam Hussein's government.
There is no evidence Kojo Annan, based in Nigeria, worked on the Iraq project
for Cotecna, which was also hired by the U.S.-led occupation in Iraq until
Answering questions, Annan said: "Naturally I have warm, family relations with
my son, but he is in a different field. He is an independent businessman. He is
a grown man and I don't get involved with his activities and he doesn't get
involved in mine."
U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said the secretary-general had no role in the
distribution of contracts, and those who signed the deal maintained they did not
know in 1998 that Kojo Annan, then a trainee, worked for Cotecna.
"As I have said earlier, I have no involvement with granting of contracts,
either on this Cotecna one, or others," Annan said.
The defunct oil-for-food program began in December 1996 to ease the impact of
U.N. sanctions, imposed in mid-1990, on ordinary Iraqis. Baghdad was allowed to
sell oil and buy civilian supplies under U.N. secretariat and Security Council
supervision. The program was shut down after last year's U.S.-led invasion of
Charles Duelfer, a former U.N. weapons inspector, in a lengthy report for the
CIA, said Saddam's government earned $7.5 billion in cash by violating U.N.
sanctions from the early 1990s onward, mainly by smuggling oil outside the $64
billion U.N. program.
A further $3 billion was earned in kickbacks on oil and other schemes under the
program, Duelfer's report said.
OIL-FOR-FOOD ISSUE 'VERY SERIOUS' - DANFORTH
Some six probes are under way in the Republican-led U.S. Congress, while the
United Nations has engaged former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to head
an independent panel.
U.S. Ambassador John Danforth told reporters the oil-for-food issue was "very
serious and deserves thorough investigation."
Danforth said everything should be handed over to the congressional committees
for the sake of transparency.
But he added, "I am not for chaos, everyone asking everyone for everything at
the same time."
"As soon as the information can be made public, the better off we can be,"
Asked if Annan should resign, Danforth said, "I don't think that the United
States government rushes to judgment until all the facts are in."
Volcker has refused to comply with congressional requests for documents, saying
disclosure would "be damaging to the pursuit of investigative leads, chill
participation of witnesses and risk misleading, prejudicial and unfair
impressions" of people, institutions and nations.
Volcker's panel will release a preliminary report in January and a definitive
report by the middle of next year.
Henry Hyde, an Illinois Republican who chairs the House International Relations
Committee, introduced a bill on Nov. 17 demanding increased accountability by
the United Nations. He said he had obtained U.N. audits that "identified
mismanagement and uneconomical' arrangements" by Cotecna.
Annan 'Disappointed' by Son's Ties to UN Contract
Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was
upset to learn his son was getting paid this year by a company under scrutiny
for its role in the UN program through which U.S. investigators say deposed
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein stole as much as $21.3 billion.
A UN spokesman said last week that Kojo Annan, 29, received $2,500 a month over
four years from Geneva-based Cotecna Inspection SA, which checked humanitarian
goods paid for by oil sold under a UN-administered program from 1999 to November
2003. Kojo Annan worked full-time for Cotecna from 1995 to 1997, and as a
consultant until the end of 1998. His work was in Africa, according to the
Kofi Annan, 66, told reporters today that he thought until last week that his
son's relationship with Cotecna ended in 1998. UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said on
Nov. 26 that Kojo Annan received a total of $125,000 until February this year as
part of a "no-compete'' contract under which he agreed not to start a business
in competition with Cotecna.
"Naturally, I was very disappointed and surprised,'' Kofi Annan said at the UN
today. "I had been working under the understanding that this ceased in 1998. I
had no expectation that the relationship continued.''
In a statement, Cotecna said Kojo Annan was involved "exclusively'' with the
company's activities in Nigeria and Ghana. The Annan family is from Ghana.
Annan said he recognized that that there was a "perception problem for the UN of
conflict of interest'' with the payments that continued until this year, and
that criticism of the UN's management of the oil-for-food program was making the
world body's work "much more difficult.''
The U.S. Congress and an independent panel appointed by Annan and led by former
Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker are investigating the oil-for-food
program, which was designed to isolate Hussein in the decade leading up to the
U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Congress plans to review payments Kojo Annan received after 1999, the Wall
Street Journal reported today, citing an unidentified member of the House
Committee on Government Reform. Cotecna never disclosed that it continued to
make payments to him after 1999 even though the committee subpoenaed the company
for information about the transactions, the Journal said.
Resignation Not Sought
John Danforth, U.S. ambassador to the UN, said all the oil- for-food issues were
"very serious and deserving of very careful attention.'' Danforth told reporters
he delivered that message to Kofi Annan at a meeting today in New York.
"Allegations of fraud and bribery and the like are very serious and they go to
the integrity of the organization,'' Danforth said. ``We have to get to the
bottom of this and let the chips fall where they may.''
The U.S. isn't seeking Annan's resignation, Danforth said. "I do not think the
U.S. government rushes to judgment until all the facts are in,'' Danforth said.
The ambassador also said he didn't see any reason for Congress to question U.S.
funding of the UN.
A Cotecna spokesman said all information on the matter had been turned over the
UN and U.S. investigators, the Wall Street Journal reported. Kojo Annan worked
for Cotecna as a trainee and consultant, the Journal reported.
There's no evidence that Kojo Annan's relationship with Cotecna affected the
contracts the UN awarded, Eckhard said.
The UN program allowed Iraq to sell oil in order to feed its population during
the final six years of sanctions, which ended with the Iraq war in March 2003.
The U.S. says former regime elements may be using Hussein's billions to fund
insurgents in Fallujah and other Iraqi cities.
Iraq cooperated with countries to manipulate its sale of food and medicine,
Volcker said in a Nov. 24 interview with television talk show host Charlie Rose.
Cotecna employed 85 inspectors to authenticate that lists of goods purchased
through the program matched items arriving at four Iraqi border posts.
"The imports were overpriced or of poor quality, so the importer was making a
margin much larger than an ordinary commercial margin,'' Volcker said, noting
that Russia was one of the countries involved in the program. "There would be
some mechanism that at least part of that money would be paid back to either the
Iraqi government or Iraqi officials.
Evelyn Suarez, an attorney for the Washington law firm Williams Mullen, which
represents Cotecna, didn't return a telephone call seeking comment.
World Peace Herald
Oil-for-food details surprise U.N. chief
By UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL
Published November 29, 2004
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says he was surprised to learn the extent of
payments made to his son from an Iraq Oil-for-Food Program inspection company.
Annan Monday also said he understands "the perception problem for the United
Nations, or the perception of conflict of interests and wrongdoing." But he says
he is determined to focus on U.N. reform and implementation of Millennium
Development Goals -- projects he knew would be difficult, but now made even more
It was learned last week, Annan's son, Kojo, had been receiving until February
payments as an ex-Cotecna employee for not competing with the Swiss firm the
United Nations retained to inspect Oil-for Food shipments for contract
compliance. The U.N. previously said the shipments ended in 1998.
Asked if he talked with his son, Annan said: "I did talk to my son. Naturally I
was very disappointed and surprised." He did not elaborate.
When U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Danforth was asked if calls for
Annan's resignation from some segments of the media were premature, he replied:
"I am not for prejudging anything. I am for the absolute laying out of all of