Home>News Center>World

Annan's son's employer audited
Updated: 2005-03-25 14:26

Investigators probing corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq are auditing transactions between five companies and the Swiss firm that employed U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's son, a spokesman for the Swiss firm said Thursday.

Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who is conducting an independent investigation of alleged corruption in the $64 billion program, asked Cotecna Inspection S.A. about a month and a half ago for records from the five companies for the years 1996 to 2004, spokesman Seth Goldschlager said.

Kojo Annan, the son of the U.N. chief, worked for Cotecna in West Africa from 1995 to December 1997 and then as a consultant until the end of 1998, when the company was awarded a contract to certify the import of goods under the oil-for-food program.

Both Annans and Cotecna deny any link between Kojo Annan's employment and the awarding of the U.N. contract to the company.

"Cotecna said we can't do this quickly, so why don't we get an auditor to do this and we'll pay for it and you choose the auditor," Goldschlager said in an interview.

But there was a delay in selecting an auditor, and the Swiss accounting firm BDO Visura, which was ultimately chosen by Volcker's Independent Inquiry Committee, only began work about a week ago and won't be finished with the audit until the end of April, he said.

He also said the company won agreement from Swiss banks to drop secrecy provisions regarding Cotecna transactions with the five companies.

"They're looking for anything in the accounts of these five companies that could have had anything to do with the U.N. oil-for-food program," he said.

A spokesman for the Volcker inquiry, said he had no comment on specifics of the investigation raised by Goldschlager and refused to allow the use of his name.

Sole 24 reported in Wednesday's editions that Kojo Annan received at least $300,000 from Cotecna, almost double the amount previously disclosed.

Cotecna said Kojo Annan earned about $200,000 as a full-time employee and then as a consultant during the period 1996 through1998, Goldschlager said.

From 1999 until February 2004, he was paid $2,500 a month by Cotecna not to work for a competing company in Nigeria or Ghana. With expenses for a transition period, the total estimated by Cotecna during this so-called "noncompete" contract is estimated now at somewhat above $165,000, Goldschlager said.

Volcker is scheduled to release an interim report on Tuesday detailing his findings about whether or not Kofi Annan or Kojo Annan committed any wrongdoing in connection with the oil-for-food program.

Since the audit won't be completed until the end of April, however, it appears that Volcker will not be able to make a final assessment in his upcoming report. His final report is expected in midsummer.

The oil-for-food program, which ran from 1996 to 2003, allowed the former Iraqi government to sell oil in exchange for humanitarian goods, as an exemption from UN. sanctions imposed after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

In a bid to curry favor and end sanctions, Saddam allegedly gave former government officials, activists, journalists and U.N. officials vouchers for Iraqi oil that could then be resold at a profit.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

Cross-Straits ties threatened by protest



Kyrgyzstan gov't collapses after protest



China's forex chief takes helm of CCB



Higher oil prices fuel tax-for-fee reform



Kim invites Chinese president for a visit



UK accuse US of grave rights violations


  Kyrgyzstan gov't collapses after protest
  Six-month World Expo opens in Japan
  Seven killed in Afghanistan fighting
  UK lawmakers accuse U.S. of grave rights violations
  UN approves 10,000 peacekeepers for southern Sudan
  Schiavo's parents almost out of options
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Annan's son faces fresh allegations in UN scandal
Annan begins campaign for UN reforms
UN General Assembly to hear Annan overhaul plan
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?