The name is Bone, James Bone,
and he’s asking, Where Is the Car?
Probably the most egregious flaw in Mr. Volcker’s report is its handling of a contemporaneous document referring explicitly to discussions with the secretary-general in Paris in November 1998 about Cotecna’s bid. The internal company memo–a “trip report” written by Annan family friend and then-Cotecna executive Michael Wilson to other Cotecna officials who were also in Paris at the time–says in part: “We had brief discussions with the SG and his entourage.” Despite the memo’s use of “we,” the Volcker inquiry held that Mr. Wilson did not meet personally with the U.N. chief, and concluded that “The committee has not been able to corroborate Mr. Wilson’s claim that he had a meeting with the secretary-general about Cotecna’s bid for the inspection contract as set forth in the Paris memorandum.” (My italics.)
This is a distortion in one or Mr. Volcker’s key findings: The memo said “we” not “I.” Never did Mr. Wilson claim that he met personally with Kofi Annan. Indeed, the Volcker report itself says Mr. Wilson “repeatedly asserted” that he did not meet the secretary-general in Paris. Mr. Volcker’s team did discover, however, that Kojo Annan, in Paris as part of the Cotecna contingent, met his father in the U.N. chief’s room at the Hotel de Crillon on Nov. 28, 1998. The Volcker report failed even to address the possibility that the “we” in the memo might refer to talks between the U.N. secretary-general and his son, or between the U.N. chief and another Cotecna representative (i.e., one who was not Mr. Wilson).
This is where the missing Mercedes comes in. The Mercedes was purchased by Kojo Annan in his father’s name four days before the Hotel de Crillon meeting–and about two weeks before Cotecna won the U.N. contract. The use of the U.N. chief’s diplomatic status qualified the car for a $6,541 discount on the purchase price and a $14,103 tax exemption when it was imported to his native Ghana. Mr. Volcker’s investigators found a memo on the computer of Mr. Annan’s personal assistant asking him to authorize a letter to Mercedes. “Sir, Kojo asked me to send the attached letter re: the car he is trying to purchase under your name. The company is requesting a letter be sent from the U.N. Kojo said it could be signed by anyone from your office. May I ask Lamin to sign it?” the assistant wrote.
Neither Kofi Annan, his aide Lamin Sise, nor his assistant, Wagaye Assebe, can recall what happened, and the original documents have disappeared–but somehow the Mercedes was purchased with the diplomatic discount anyway. Abdoulie Janneh, the U.N. official who arranged the tax exemption in Ghana was recently promoted to U.N. under-secretary-general, in charge of the Economic Commission for Africa.
And the car is still “missing”. My guess is that the car is parked in a garage built from tsunami relief funds. Not that Jan “the Americans are stingy” Egeland, the United Nations top disaster official, is telling.
Today’s articles from Maria
Dr. Sowell looks at Cheap politicians and asks,
How many people in the top layer of their respective professions are going to sacrifice the future of their families — the ability to give their children the best education, the ability to have something to fall back on in case of illness or tragedy, the ability to retire in comfort and with peace of mind — in order to go into politics?
Particularly when politics has become a never ending mud-slinging marathon?
From TownHall: Of Mice and Minutemen