Investigators say they have received information that Rich and Ben Pollner, a New York-based oil trader who heads Taurus Oil, set up a series of companies in Liechtenstein and other countries that they used to put together deals between Saddam and his international supporters in the controversial oil-voucher scheme — which the dictator designed to win international support against U.S. sanctions at the United Nations.
Under the scam, hundreds of international political and financial figures from France, Russia and other countries were awarded middleman vouchers allowing them to purchase set quantities of Iraqi oil at discount rates.
These so-called “non-end users” could then resell the oil on the open market and make profits of up to 50 cents a barrel. Benon Sevan, who headed the U.N. oil-for-food program, is among those listed in Iraqi Oil Ministry documents as having been a recipient of the vouchers.
Since most of the recipients did not have refineries or cargo ships, they needed to sell the oil to someone else who could ship the oil out of Iraq in order to cash in.
Investigators now believe Rich and Pollner brokered many of the deals by finding buyers for the oil allocated to people who were bribed by Saddam. The discount Iraqi oil would be resold to major oil companies at higher prices and Rich and Pollner would pocket percentages of the profits, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, sources said.
Claudia Rosett (via Friends of Saddam), in the meantime, has been looking at Kojo Annan’s job, since Contracts Chief Shown To Be Annan Son’s Main Cotecna Tie,
His chief contact at Cotecna’s head office in Geneva, Switzerland, appears to have been the company’s Senior Vice President, Andre Pruniaux, who became chief of Cotecna’s U.N. oil-for-food contract. The younger Annan and Mr. Pruniaux had extensive correspondence by fax, and were also in touch by phone, for the duration of Kojo’s full-time employment with Cotecna from 1995-1997, as well as during Kojo’s 10-month consultancy with Cotecna, which ended on December 31, 1998 – the day Cotecna signed the U.N. contract with Iraq.
For more than five years after that, continuing until February 26 of this year, Cotecna paid Kojo Annan $2,500 per month, from which health coverage fees were deducted, under a deal in which he agreed not to compete with their operations in Africa. These payments ended just three months after the U.N. closed out its role in oil-for-food and assigned the Cotecna contract to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.
As Rosett says, so far the documents don’t show what it was Kojo was getting paid for, or, more elegantly put, “any indication of what Kojo Annan’s employment either on staff, or as a consultant, actually delivered in the way of results for Cotecna; or what services he was providing for which he submitted expenses during the noncompete period following his employment”.