Whitewashing Kofi . . .

Whitewashing Kofi . . .
Vol: 42 Issue: 30 Wednesday, March 30, 2005

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the interim Volcker report amounted to a vindication of Kofi Annan in the Oil For Food scandal.

Running under the banner headline, “Oil-Food Inquiry Clears UN Chief”, the Chronicle noted that the committee found ‘no evidence’ that the Secretary-General attempted to influence the awarding of a contract to a company that employed his son, Kojo.

And, Annan told a news conference that he viewed the conclusions about him as an “exoneration”, which he said he welcomed with “great relief” after “so many distressing and untrue allegations.”

Asked if he thought the report’s criticisms of him for management failures meant that he should step down for the good of the organization, he replied bluntly, “Hell, no.”

The Chronicle reported a vindication, but, according to the New York Post, the Volker report was sufficiently damning enough to justify it’s chosen headline, “Bye-Bye, Kofi”.

The Post notes that; “[A] careful reading of the 144-page document raises questions about why Volcker was so eager to give Annan the benefit of what clearly is considerable doubt surrounding the role of Swiss-based Cotecna and of Annan’s son, Kojo, in the $60 billion scandal.”

The relevant passage of the Volcker report says that the investigation uncovered “several instances in which [Annan] might, or could have become aware, of Cotecna’s participation in the bidding process . . . there is neither convincing testimony to that effect nor any documentary evidence.”

A vindication? A condemnation?

It all depends on which side of the fence one stands on. Despite its published conclusions, the Volcker report discovered that Kofi Annan knew as far back as 1992, when Oil-for-Food was first discussed, of Cotecna’s interest in procuring a contract from the U.N.; he also knew when the deal was signed that his son had been hired by the firm.

Moreover, as the UN was putting out the contracts for bid, Cotecna sent Kojo Annan to New York to, in the words of the report, “advance Cotecna s business” by lobbying his daddy’s United Nations to get Cotecna put on the ‘short list’ for contracts to be awarded.

While all this was going on, Cotecna Chairman Elie Massey was meeting privately with the secretary-general supposedly to discuss a fund-raising scheme for the UN.

The report concludes that at no time did Kofi Annan and Massey discuss financially ailing Cotecna’s interest in obtaining U.N. business.

Why did it conclude that? Because both men say so.

Since there are no other records, the Volcker Commission couldn’t prove WHAT they talked about. But the Commission noted that both Kojo Annan and Elie Massey “intentionally deceived” and made “false statements” to the committee, so they are really relying only on the diminishing veracity of Kofi Annan himself.

Rather than “exonerating” Kofi Annan, the Volcker report merely accepted his denials.

But the report DID criticize Annan directly for being ‘insensitive’ to the conflict of interest inherent in giving the contracts to Kojo’s employer.

“Insensitive” in this context, is an understatement of monumental proportions.

Assessment:

The Volcker Commission failed to find a ‘smoking gun’ memo from Kofi Annan directing that Cotecna be awarded its contract, but that doesn’t mean Annan’s conduct was above reproach — it was just too carefully protected to prove criminality.

Annan’s top aide, Iqbal Riza, evidently shredded three year’s worth of documents related to the investigation within hours of the Security Council’s authorization of the investigation. But the Commission could not prove Kofi gave the order.

The findings seem to defy common sense. Kojo Annan was hired by Cotecna — right out of college — for a TRAINING program with Cotecna.

As a TRAINEE, Annan was sent to lobby the UN for contracts, traveled the globe with its top executives and was paid some $400,000.00 — twice what Cotecna originally claimed, and much of it AFTER he left Cotecna s employ.

The commission could not explain the inconsistencies apart from Kojo’s relationship with Secretary-General, so they evidently decided not to try. Instead, they reserved their harshest criticism for Kojo, largely giving Kofi a pass.

“Kojo Annan actively participated in efforts by Cotecna to conceal the true nature of its continuing relationship with him,” inspectors found.

“Kojo Annan also intentionally deceived the Secretary-General … was not forthcoming … has failed to cooperate fully … [and] has refused to answer questions. … Significant questions remain about the integrity of Kojo Annan’s business and financial dealings.”

We mentioned earlier this week that Kofi was planning to sacrifice his son to save himself, and he did.

He claims that Kojo concealed his relationship with Cotecna from him, and then lied about the details.

“For reasons that parents everywhere will understand, the most difficult and painful moments for me personally, through this past year, have been those when it appeared that my son, Kojo, might have acted inappropriately, or might not have told me the full truth about his actions,” he told reporters.

Nice touch, I thought, bringing ‘parents everywhere’ in on his side, but it sounded flat to me.

However, he almost had me when he added, “I love my son, and I have always expected the highest standards of integrity from him.”

Then he lost me again when he pushed his son under the wheels of Volker s bus by saying he had instructed Kojo to cooperate with the investigation, and that Kojo had failed to do so.

Given the choice between his job and his son, he chose his job. That might be understandable to parents somewhere, but it isn’t understandable to parents EVERYWHERE.

But it reveals much about the character of the Secretary General of the United Nations, not much of it good.

The fact is, even this report as protective as it is of the secretary-general seriously undermines his credibility and effectiveness. And it still falls far short of explaining how this monumental scandal was perpetrated.

In any case, the United Nations’ troubles continue to mount, while its international credibility plummets like a stone. The Oil For Food scandal is much more than Cotecna and Kojo Annan.

In June, the Volcker commission will issue its final report in June, this time including the actions taken by the fifteen-member Security Council.

And there may not be enough whitewash to go around.

This entry was posted in Briefings by Pete Garcia. Bookmark the permalink.

About Pete Garcia

Christian, father, husband, veteran, pilot, and sinner saved by grace. I am a firm believer in, and follower of Jesus Christ. I am Pre-Trib, Dispensational, and Non-Denominational (but I lean Southern Baptist).

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