Kojo's New Car
Failed To pay $14,000 in customs duties As Paul Volcker put the finishing touches last week on his final report on the U.N.'s role in the oil-for-food scandal, investigators continue to uncover details about Kojo Annan's links with Cotecna, the company at the center of the influence-peddling inquiry.
In late 1998, U.N. sources say, Kojo, son of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, got a $3,000 loan from a friend for a down payment on a sporty green Mercedes ML 320 in Geneva, Switzerland. The friend was Michael Wilson, then a vice president of Cotecna, the firm that not only employed Kojo but also won millions of dollars in U.N. contracts, including one, signed within two months after the down payment was made, to monitor the oil-for-food program in Iraq. About the same time Wilson's wife bought a car from the Swiss dealer, Kojo Annan wound up paying $39,000 for his Mercedes, getting $15,000 in help from his dad plus a $6,000 "diplomatic" discount by falsely claiming that his father was the car's owner. He later shipped the vehicle to his native Ghana, again using his father's diplomatic status to avoid paying $14,000 in customs duties.
The report, from the independent committee appointed by Kofi Annan and chaired by Volcker, a former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman, will criticize the Secretary-General's failure to stop corruption inside the oil-for-food scheme, as well as his responsibility for U.N. mismanagement, the sources tell TIME. But the report does not find that he influenced U.N. contracts in favor of Cotecna--or knew the precise details of his son's car deal.
A lawyer for Kojo Annan told TIME that Kojo reimbursed Wilson, who could not be reached for comment. --By Adam Zagorin