Thursday, September 08, 2005

Kofi Annan Failed To Curb Corruption In Iraq's Oil-For-Food Program

A yearlong probe of the Iraq oil-for-food program has concluded that the United Nations allowed "illicit, unethical, and corrupt behavior" to overwhelm the $64 -billion operation. The Independent Inquiry Committee's final report, to be released today, says the UN must adopt sweeping reforms before taking on such tasks again, according to a draft forward obtained by The Associated Press.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Yet the committee, which is UN-appointed and supported, also found that the program succeeded in providing minimal standards of nutrition and health care for millions of Iraqis trying to cope with tough UN sanctions imposed after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. It also helped in the international effort to deprive Saddam of weapons of mass destruction, it said. While the forward doesn't go into detail about UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, an official familiar with the committee's final conclusions said it will criticize him, his predecessor Boutros Boutros-Ghali and the U.N. Security Council, especially Russia and France. Annan's failure to properly manage the program will be strongly criticized, but there is no new "smoking gun" linking him to an oil-for-food contract awarded to the Swiss company Cotecna that employed his son Kojo, the official said yesterday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the report had not been released. The new report will criticize Kojo Annan for trading on his father's name in the purchase of a Mercedes, for which he borrowed money from Michael Wilson, a Cotecna executive who is a friend of Kofi and Kojo Annan, the official said. The final report is expected to detail the inner workings of oil-for-food over more than 700 pages. "As the years passed, reports spread of waste, inefficiency, and corruption even within the UN itself," inquiry chief Paul Volcker, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, wrote in a draft forward of the report. "Some was rumor and exaggeration, but much - too much - of it has turned out to be true." Yet the forward says the United Nations is the only organization in the world with the expertise and authority to handle work like oil-for-food, established in 1996.