11/26/2004

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

Via Instapundit, it appears that the hoohah surrounding the United Nations Oil-For-Food program is about to get worse.

One of the next big chapters in the United Nations oil-for-food scandal will involve the family of the secretary-general, Kofi Annan, whose son turns out to have been receiving payments as recently as early this year from a key contractor in the oil-for-food program.

The secretary-general's son, Kojo Annan, was previously reported to have worked for a Swiss-based company called Cotecna Inspection Services SA, which from 1998-2003 held a lucrative contract with the U.N. to monitor goods arriving in Saddam Hussein's Iraq under the oil-for-food program. But investigators are now looking into new information suggesting that the younger Annan received far more money over a much longer period, even after his compensation from Cotecna had reportedly ended.

The importance of this story involves not only undisclosed conflicts of interest, but the question of the role of the secretary-general himself, at a time when talk is starting to be heard around the U.N. that it is time for him to resign, and the staff labor union is in open rebellion against "senior management."
Should these allegations turn out to have some merit, it's hard to imagine this story getting any worse. If the family of the Secretary General of the United Nations has been profiting from the circumvention of the sanctions against Iraq, what moral credibility can that body purport to wield?

...

Okay, now that we've all had a good laugh about the UN's moral authority, let's get back to it. Even as this story continues to grow, the head of the independent panel investigating the mess is refusing to turn over evidence to U.S. congressional investigators.
Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker instead pledged to make virtually all the evidence public at his own pace, beginning early in 2005.

Volcker, who leads the Independent Inquiry Committee on the scandal-ridden U.N. relief program, had been asked by two U.S. senators for immediate access to documents and U.N. witnesses for use in a parallel investigation by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Republican Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, head of the investigations subcommittee, and the subcommittee's top Democrat, Carl Levin of Michigan, last week accused both Volcker and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan of engineering a massive cover-up of U.N. wrongdoing by blocking their access to documents and potential U.N. witnesses.
It's reassuring to see that both sides of the aisle are holding Volcker's feet to the fire in this matter, although it remeains to be seen what will actually come of all this hand-wringing. Until now, I would have been content with Kofi Annan's resignation. As more facts are brought into the light, I'm starting to wonder if the man shouldn't be brought up on criminal charges.