September 8, 2005

More On U.N. Corruption

It seems as though the release of the Volcker (IIC) report yesterday marks the beginning not the end of the fact-finding on the Oil-For-Food scandal. Several congressional probes are underway, and so far Annan/Volcker have controlled the lion's share of the documentation. That should be about to change.

And U.S. federal prosecutions of Alexander Yakovlev, and now Vladimir Kuznetsov are no doubt just the beginning. Here's the amazing Claudia Rosett, this time at Fox (stay tuned) on the widening of the criminal investigation into procurement practices under the Russian Yakovlev, which coincided with Russia being the No. 1 contractor to Oil-For-Food, as well as the nation most showered with Saddam's bribery cash. (Fox link via Roger Simon)

And over at NRO (she's everywhere) Ms. Rosett makes a much-needed point about the so-called "exoneration" of Annan on the Kojo Annan/Cotecna contract issue, which is a serious matter, but almost a trivial detail in the context of Annan's overall responsibility:

The problem here is that whatever the truth about the secretary-general’s family ties to U.N. business, he was responsible for a great deal more than simply that particular U.N. contract. Even after the many scandals broken so far, a full account of the U.N.’s management of Oil-for-Food — starting with Annan’s starring role as head of the organization — would be an eye-popping thriller, and probably the healthiest thing to hit the U.N. since its founding. Oil-for-Food was not a bookkeeping exercise. It involved oversight of Saddam Hussein, an oil-rich war-mongering tyrant who gamed every angle of one of the most corruption-prone relief programs ever devised. Out of more than $110 billion in oil sales and relief purchases supervised by the U.N., Saddam by some estimates grafted out anywhere from $10 to $17 billion. While the U.N. praised the program, Saddam used his ill-gotten money not only for palaces, but to rebuild despite U.N. sanctions his networks of secret bank accounts, illicit political payoffs and arms traffic — and squirreled away billions that congressional investigators say may be funding terrorism today.

But if the preface to Volcker’s report is any guide, readers will find themselves slogging through such stuff as: “The Secretary-General — any Secretary-General — has not been chosen for his managerial or his administrative skills, nor has he been provided with a structure conducive to strong executive control and oversight.” In other words, as the preface also states, although the U.N. charter “designates the Secretary-General as Chief Administrative Officer,” the Volcker committee believes his real role has become that of “chief diplomatic and political agent of the United Nations.”

That leaves us with a secretary-general who is apparently excused from competent management, but also failed to alert the world to such vital political matters as Saddam’s attempts to corrupt the U.N.’s own Security Council via Oil-for-Food deals — information obvious from records the U.N. kept secret from the public, but not from Annan.

Related:

The Australian editorial

Washington Post editorial

The London Times editorial

Posted by dan at September 8, 2005 12:56 AM