March 2, 2005

Annan Deputy Obstructed Audits

Ever since the Oil-For-Food scandal broke wide open early last year, Kofi Annan has tried to distance himself from responsibility for the megafraud by suggesting it was the Security Council, and not his U.N. Sercretariat that had oversight (or not) of the program. As nonsensical as this claim has always been, given Annan's direct involvement in every aspect of the program and his semi-annual endorsements of its actions from its inception, he has has still tried to maintain this distance from charges that his office was itself complicit in the fraud.

This Fox News story blows the last shred of credibility from that cover with the disclosure that Annan's second-in-command, Louise Frechette obstructed audits and kept reports of fraud from the Security Council...

Four years into the seven-year Oil-for-Food program, with graft and mismanagement by then rampant, Frechette intervened directly by telephone to stop United Nations auditors from forwarding their investigations to the U.N. Security Council. This detail was buried on page 186 of the 219-page interim report Volcker’s Independent Inquiry Committee released Feb. 3.

This decision from within Annan’s office left only the Secretariat privy to the specifics of the waste, bungling and contractual breaches detailed by U.N. internal auditors in dozens of damning reports. The extent of what Annan’s office knew was not available either to the Security Council or the public until Congress finally forced the issue and the United Nations produced the reports in conjunction with a Volcker "briefing paper" in January...

...Frechette’s actions stand in sharp contrast to the assertions of Annan and his public relations staff that the Security Council – and not the Secretariat – supervised the more than $110 billion Oil-for-Food program. Her decision, as documented by Volcker, also places responsibility squarely in the secretary-general’s office for obscuring mismanagement of the program from the Security Council.

The cover-up did not stop with Benon Sevan, the now-disgraced Oil-for-Food executive director, who reportedly blocked audits that originated lower in the chain of command. The obstruction went all the way up to Annan’s office on the 38th floor.

Posted by dan at March 2, 2005 1:33 PM