'Last month we learned that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan may have been aware that Swiss inspections company Cotecna was bidding for an Oil for Food contract it eventually won later that year. "We had brief discussions with the SG and his entourage," says a memo written by Cotecna executive and Annan family friend Michael Wilson. "Their collective advise [sic] was that we should respond as best we could to the Q&A session . . . and that we could count on their support."
Mr. Annan has denied having any prior knowledge of the Cotecna bid in testimony to Paul Volcker's committee investigating Oil for Food. But if the substance of the Cotecna memo is accurate--the company confirms its authenticity--it means the Secretary General may have misled investigators. Mr. Volcker is checking the matter out, and we now know he plans to issue at least three more reports--two more than had been originally planned--in the coming weeks. It'll be interesting to see if Mr. Annan will then be able to claim exoneration, as he did earlier this year.'
'Then there is the continuing investigation of Benon Sevan, the senior U.N. bureaucrat formerly in charge of Oil for Food. Back in February, Mr. Volcker cited Mr. Sevan for "placing himself in an irreconcilable conflict of interest," after he allegedly received oil allocations from Saddam Hussein's regime worth up to $1.2 million.
It later emerged that Mr. Sevan had mysteriously inherited $160,000 from a Cypriot aunt of modest means. Mr. Sevan is now the target of a probe by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, although he enjoys diplomatic immunity on account of a $1 annual U.N. salary. (Mr. Annan has pledged to lift Mr. Sevan's immunity if criminal charges are filed; we'll have to see if he honors it.)'