CLAUDIA ROSSET: On more unanswered questions by Kofi Annan at the United Nations
In this piece, Rosset addresses Kofi Annan's manipulations of UN officials, investigators and the compromised UN Oil-for-Food "internal investigation" in order to protect and clear himself of responsibility and accountability for the all-time largest international fraud in history and other abuses of power and position. The Mercedes incident described in this piece is evidence of still and yet more corruption, fraud and abuse of influence, power and entitlements by UN officials and Kofi Annan's son Kojo.
The column is titled "Mercedes Mystery: More awkward questions at the U.N. — which Kofi Annan isn’t answering." You will find excerpts below or can read the entire piece at the above link to NationalReviewOnline.
"What does it take to get promoted by Kofi Annan at the United Nations? For longtime U.N. staffer Abdoulie Janneh, it took less than two weeks after his recent testimony to investigators helped clear Annan of any role in his own son's alleged misuse of the name and privileges of the secretary-general to ship a Mercedes duty-free into Ghana — at a savings of more than $14,000.
Janneh's statements excusing Kofi Annan were included in a report released Sept. 7, 2005, by Paul Volcker's investigative commission into Oil-for-Food. Twelve days after the report came out, Annan promoted Janneh from assistant secretary-general to the U.N.'s third-highest rank of undersecretary-general.... But as an indicator of U.N. practice at the top, the tale of Kojo's Mercedes continues to raise awkward questions — which Kofi Annan's office has variously ignored or refused to answer.
The Mercedes story tracks back to 1998, the second year of Kofi Annan's tenure as secretary-general; but was not disclosed until this September, when it turned up as a sideshow of Annan-family financial affairs in Paul Volcker's main report on Oil-for-Food. As recounted by Volcker, the saga of the Mercedes began with Kojo Annan's trip to a car show in Geneva, Switzerland, in early 1998, where "he saw a Mercedes Benz vehicle that he wished to buy for his personal use" and in order to get a U.N. discount — although he did not work for the U.N. — "he set out to buy the car in his father's name." This led later to a note dated November 13, 1998, unearthed from a U.N. computer by the Volcker committee, in which Kofi Annan's personal secretary, Wagaye Assebe, relayed a message from Kojo to Kofi Annan, requesting a signature from the U.N. executive office "re: the car he is trying to purchase under your name...." Kofi Annan has told the Volcker committee he does not recall seeing this note, and would not have allowed anyone at the U.N. to sign such a request in his name.
But somehow or other, according to Volcker, the Mercedes purchase did take place in Kofi Annan's name, with Kojo Annan paying $39,056 for the car after a 14.3-percent U.N. discount.... Volcker reports that "Kojo Annan falsely represented to Mr. Janneh that the car was intended for the personal use of the Secretary-General...."
"When the car was shipped to Ghana, Kojo Annan saved $14,013 in import duties because of the false attestation that the car was for the personal use of the Secretary-General."
Volcker's account prompts questions, however, and the secretary-general's apparent lack of interest in addressing them raises even more....
In a telephone interview Sunday, Kofi Annan's chief of staff, Mark Malloch Brown, said the Mercedes affair is a matter not for the U.N., but something "between Kojo and his conscience and the Ghanaian authorities." Kojo's lawyers in a letter appended to Volcker's Sept. 7 report responded that Kojo was "barely out of college" and "He can be forgiven for an indiscretion of this sort, if indeed it is one."But given that it was not Kojo Annan directly, but a U.N. official who allegedly filed the false claim with the Ghanaian government, misrepresenting the Mercedes as a car for the U.N. Secretary-General, the issues are broader than that....
For starters, there's the mystery of what became of the Mercedes. If the customs exemption was falsely claimed by the U.N., then presumably the U.N. owes Ghana more than $14,000 on the car. And if the car documentation was in Kofi Annan's name, has any Annan, whether Kofi or Kojo, sold the car, or for that matter, refunded the money? Has the U.N. compensated Ghana? If so, from what budget? And if not, then why not? While $14,000 may be counted by the U.N. secretary-general as petty cash, it is still real money, and for millions in Africa it would be wealth beyond dreaming....
Whatever one makes of Kojo, the crucial issue in this Mercedes traffic centers on the U.N. and what kind of due diligence — after all Kofi Annan's promises of reform — is even now being exercised by the "Hell no"-he-won't-go secretary-general.... And one sorry result of Kofi Annan's apparent inattention to everything from massive corruption under Oil-for-Food, to crooked dealings in the procurement department, to the alleged misuse of U.N. privileges by his own son, is that there is by now no reason to trust the U.N. without verifying.
At the very least, the tale of the Mercedes and the timing of Janneh's promotion highlight the need for a lot more disclosure in the process by which the secretary-general doles out the U.N.'s top jobs...."