Home>News Center>World

Firm paid Annan's son for years -- UN
Updated: 2004-11-27 13:33

The son of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan got monthly payments more than four years longer than was previously known from a Swiss firm that won a lucrative contract under the scandal-ridden U.N. oil-for-food program, the United Nations said on Friday.

Kojo Annan, the U.N. leader's son, was paid $2,500 monthly -- a total of $125,000 -- by Geneva-based Cotecna from the beginning of 2000 through last February, as part of an agreement not to compete with Cotecna in West Africa after he left the firm, U.N. chief spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

There have been no specific charges of wrongdoing on the part of the secretary-general in the world body's December 1998 award to Cotecna of a multimillion-dollar contract to monitor Iraqi imports under the oil-for-food program.

But the disclosure of the extra years of payments renewed questions about conflicts of interest and left Annan and his staff looking inept in their handling of the matter.

The program, which let Iraq export oil and use the proceeds to buy food and other goods despite a U.N. ban on oil sales, was shut down after last year's U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Congressional investigators say Saddam Hussein's regime reaped over $21 billion from kickbacks and oil smuggling before and during the time the now-defunct program was in operation.

But most allegations center on private companies and governments and not on Annan or the United Nations.

The additional 50 months of payments to Kojo Annan were disclosed in Friday's New York Sun newspaper. It said the information had been confirmed by his lawyer.


The United Nations had previously disclosed that Kojo Annan was given monthly $2,500 payments only through the end of 1999 after leaving Cotecna at the end of 1998. Cotecna approved the payments just days after the contract was awarded.

Kofi Annan and the United Nations have previously denied any wrongdoing or ethical lapse in awarding the contract.

"Neither he (Kojo Annan) nor I had anything to do with the contract with Cotecna," Annan said in April. "That was done in strict accordance with U.N. rules and financial regulations."

The contract was repeatedly extended by the United Nations and ultimately shifted to the U.S.-led administration that governed Iraq after the 2003 invasion, which renewed the pact through June 2004, when a new government took over in Baghdad.

But Eckhard said on Friday that only former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who heads an independent panel named by the United Nations to investigate the program, could now say whether any irregularities had occurred.

"We have learned in the last two or three days that this no-compete contractual arrangement lasted much longer than we had been told. We don't know why there is this discrepancy between what Cotecna told us and what now has been confirmed by Kojo Annan's lawyer," Eckhard said.

Asked whether the secretary-general had contacted his son on the matter, Eckhard declined comment. "You want to drag the son into the father's business, and the father's business is now in the hands of Mr. Volcker," he said.

Contacted in Geneva. Cotecna spokesman Seth Goldschlager said the firm had informed the Volcker panel of the payments and there was "nothing out of line or illegal" about them.

He said Cotecna won its first oil-for-food contract in 1992, before Kofi Annan led the United Nations and before Kojo Annan worked for the company.

But Saddam Hussein's government blocked that contract because it called for Cotecna to inspect all imports rather than simply ensure their paperwork was in order -- the system that ultimately prevailed in Iraq, Goldschlager said.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

Eight schoolboys slain in Henan; attacker arrested



People need better AIDS, HIV information



Bus crash kills 25, injures 24 in Shaanxi



Anti-corruption drive to dig deeper



WTO lets EU, others hit US with sanctions



Graduates compete for government posts


  Ukraine rivals fail to resolve stalemate
  Barghouthi drops election bid
  Leading Iraq parties call for election delay
  WTO lets EU, others hit US with sanctions
  Bush: Iran nuke pact must be verifiable
  Venezuela plans to buy a lot of Russian weapons
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?