Latest interim report cleared Mr. Annan of wrongdoing
Earlier today the United Nations secatery General Kofi Annan, under intense and growing scrutiny, was bracing for the latest report on the oil-for-food scandal in Iraq.
The allegations were made on February 3 in an interim report of the Paul Volcker-led inquiry into widespread corruption in oil-for-food, a program that operated from 1996 to 2003 and allowed Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to sell oil under UN supervision in exchange for humanitarian goods.
Now the latest interim report by the independent committee has cleared him of any wrongdoing, specifically in the award of a contract to a Swiss firm that employed his son.
“As I had always hoped and firmly believed, the inquiry has cleared me of any wrongdoing,” Mr. Annan said in a statement after receiving the report from former United States Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, head of the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) into the allegations surrounding the now defunct multibillion dollar programme that allowed then sanctions-bound Iraq to sell oil in exchange for humanitarian supplies.
“On the key issue of the award of the contract to inspect humanitarian goods entering Iraq under the Oil-for-Food programme, the report states clearly that ‘there is no evidence that the selection of Cotecna in 1998 was subject to any affirmative or improper influence of the Secretary-General in the bidding or selection process,'” the statement added.
Mr. Annan has consistently maintained that he himself was not guilty of any wrongdoing, that his son Kojo’s work for Cotecna had nothing to do with its contract, and that Kojo had confirmed that he misled his father about the extent of his relationship with the company.
The investigation centers on Kojo, who worked for a Swiss firm that was awarded a contract to monitor the largest humanitarian program in the history of the UN. Under the 60-plus billion dollar program, Saddam Hussein could sell crude oil in exchange for civilian goods.
But Saddam’s government profited billions of dollars from the program, selling oil at discounted rates to others, who re-sold it at higher costs.
The report criticizes both Kojo Annan and his former Swiss employer, Cotecna, for hiding his relationship with the company. As for his father, the secretary general was reportedly be cleared of personal wrongdoing, but could not escape some of the blame.