- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2004

If you believe U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is very smart, as I do, consider what a prodigy his son is. In 1995, at age 22, Kojo Annan found employment at Cotecna Inspection SA, a multinational firm based in Geneva, Switzerland. Its responsibilities have been awesome — and I do not use the term in the trendy, vacuous way of American teenagers, or American news anchors for that matter.

Cotecna SA, among other things, has had the duty of inspecting humanitarian aid sent to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as part of the oil-for-food scam of the 1990s. Young Kojo was right there on the scene, making sure things were up to snuff.

Now there is controversy. When Mr. Annan left the employment of Cotecna SA in 1997, he served as a consultant for modest remuneration. Naturally, given his proven expertise, he received still more payments from Cotecna SA as a consultant, to wit, a monthly check for $2,500 as a “no compete” payment.

Possibly Cotecna SA believed Kojo, now 25, would become a powerful competitor to Cotecna SA, though I would have thought that unseemly. Kojo’s father is secretary-general of the United Nations, the very body that Cotecna SA was working for. At any rate, Kojo did not compete with Cotecna SA, and presumably Cotecna SA thrives.

Yet now there is controversy. U.N. officials thought Kojo’s $2,500 ended with his consultancy in 1998. Now it is revealed that the “no compete” checks continued until February 2003. “Naturally, I was very disappointed,” the secretary-general told reporters the other day, “and surprised, yes.” Quite right, get that “surprised” in there, Mr. Secretary-General.

The secretary-general has also said, “I have no involvement with granting of contracts, either on this Cotecna one [doubtless he is referring to Cotecna SA] or others.” That is untrue, says Claudia Rosett, the journalist who did the most to expose the oil-for-food scandal and general corruption of the United Nations. Knowledgeable as she is of the organized criminality that is the United Nations, Miss Rosett reports “the contract that Mr. Annan referred to as ‘this Cotecna one’ … belonged to the handful signed by the U.N. Secretariat.” It was “handled by the U.N. Procurement Division. And the U.N. Procurement Division reports to the secretary-general.” That is to say, to Mr. Annan pere.

There is still more controversy swirling around another person close to Secretary-General Annan. His hand-picked director of the oil-for-food program’s oversight agency, Benon Sevan, was reportedly on the take from Saddam’s government. A U.S. Senate committee has documents taken by our forces from the Iraqi Oil Ministry showing Mr. Sevan received oil allotments from Iraq worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps millions.

Abuse was rampant in the oil-for-food program. Senate investigators believe more that $21 billion may have gone back to Saddam’s regime. Some of those funds may be financing the insurgency we face today. Moreover, the United Nations faces charges of misbehavior worldwide: peacekeeping troops accused of rape and extortion, U.N. officials failing to protect civilians in the Sudan, and even sexual harassment and favoritism back at U.N. headquarters in New York.

Obviously it is time for young Kojo’s father to go. The United Nations has been a tabernacle of hypocrisy for decades. Its racism against unfavored nations — for instance, Israel — is well known. The corruption is now impossible to ignore.

Kofi Annan’s departure should be the first gesture at reform, but much more is needed. The halls of U.N. headquarters crawl with conspiracy. During the Cold War, the conspiring was mainly for political advantage. Now it is for lucrative deals, as well.

Many more retirements will be needed before the United Nations’ integrity is restored. For now, our government should demand reform and refuse to send this corrupt institution any more money until reform begins.

For months I have marveled at news stories reporting Bill Clinton’s interest in some day having Kofi Annan’s job. Now, having scrutinized the murky doings of the United Nations, I think I understand. Chelsea might need a job. How is this for a deal? If Mr. Annan retires, we promise not to send Bill Clinton to take his place. Rather we shall get both Clintons a job at Cotecna SA.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of the American Spectator, a contributing editor to the New York Sun and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute.

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