- The Washington Times - Monday, March 28, 2005

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will face fresh calls for his resignation this week after being criticized by the commission he set up to investigate the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal.

In a report due out tomorrow, Mr. Annan will come under fire for failing to recognize potential conflicts of interest relating to his son, Kojo, who worked for a Swiss company that was awarded contracts under the oil-for-food scheme.

The criticism is expected to focus on three previously undisclosed meetings that Kofi Annan attended with executives from the company, Cotecna, between 1997 and 1999.

The commission, headed by Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, will also report that Mr. Annan failed to identify serious administrative problems within the United Nations.

Congressional investigators in Washington are pursuing six different inquiries into the oil-for-food scandal. Sen. Norm Coleman, Minnesota Republican, who heads the Senate Governmental Affairs permanent investigations subcommittee and who called for Mr. Annan to step down last year, said the United Nations “has to ask the question: ‘Can you achieve the type of massive reform needed if the guy who was in charge during all these mistakes is still running the show?’”

Kojo Annan will be criticized in the report for trying to trade on his family name and misleading his father about the extent of his business links to Cotecna, which had lucrative contracts to inspect goods going into Iraq under the oil-for-food program. In all, he is believed to have been paid more than $300,000 by the company.

Officials who have seen the report told the Wall Street Journal that Mr. Volcker will clear Kofi Annan of any suggestion that he rigged the program or received any financial benefit from it.

Yet the report will cast fresh doubt over whether Mr. Annan, whose term is due to end next year, can survive to implement the far-reaching U.N. reforms announced last week.

The secretary-general’s critics have latched on to Mr. Annan’s failure to mention his meetings with Cotecna executives, even after he publicly criticized his son for not telling him that he had remained on the company’s payroll for five years longer than previously believed.

Both Cotecna and Mr. Annan told the Volcker commission that the meetings, one of which took place at Mr. Annan’s U.N. office in New York, were unrelated to the oil-for-food scheme.

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