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Investigators: Not enough evidence to show Annan knew of oil-for-food contract bid

Investigators: Not enough evidence to show Annan knew of oil-for-food contract bid

NEW YORK — Investigators of the U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq said Tuesday there was not enough evidence to show that Secretary-General Kofi Annan knew of a contract bid by his son's Swiss employer.

The report obtained by The Associated Press accused Annan's son, Kojo, and the company, Cotecna Inspection S.A., of trying to conceal their relationship after the contract was in place. It also criticized the U.N. chief for not determining the exact nature of his son's relationship with the firm.

The conclusion in the investigators' report was not the clear vindication that the secretary-general wanted, although the investigation led by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker did not accuse the U.N. chief of corruption.

The report obtained Tuesday said "there is no evidence" the selection of Cotecna for an inspection contract "was subject to any affirmative or improper influence of the secretary-general in the bidding or selection process."

Investigators also said "the evidence is not reasonably sufficient" that Annan knew about Cotecna's bid in 1998.

The report is the second issued by the Volcker's team of investigators and comes a week after Annan called for the biggest overhaul of the United Nations in its 60-year history.

The report found that Kojo Annan was not forthcoming with either his father or the committee and accused him of consistently trying to hide the nature of his relationship with Cotecna.

It said there still were "significant questions" about Kojo Annan's business dealings with respect to the program, and an investigation was continuing.

In a letter annexed to the report, Kojo Annan's lawyer, William R. Taylor, rejected any claim that his client had not been wholly cooperative with the committee. But Taylor admitted that Kojo Annan had not told his father the entire truth.

"Mr. Annan has consistently acknowledged that he was not completely candid with his father when the Cotecna-U.N. contract first attracted publicity in late January 1999," Taylor wrote. "He regrets the embarrassment that omission caused to his father and to the United Nations and accepts responsibility for it."

Copyright © 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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