Sunday, January 30, 2005

UN: Kofi Annan's son admits to be involved in a deal to try and sell 2 million barrels of Oil for the son of a former Saudi oil minister.

"Kojo Annan has told a close friend he became involved in negotiations to sell 2m barrels of Iraqi oil to a Moroccan company in 2001. He is understood to be co-operating with UN investigators probing the discredited oil for food programme. The alleged admission will increase pressure on Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, who is already facing calls for his resignation over the management of the humanitarian programme."

"Initially it emerged that Cotecna, the company awarded the contract to monitor humanitarian supplies imported into Iraq, had previously employed Kojo and paid him fees throughout the term of the oil for food programme.

However, a friend of Kojo’s said: “He has explained to the investigators that his only involvement with Cotecna was in Nigeria and that he knew nothing about the deal in Iraq. He is looking forward to the investigation report being published so that he will be exonerated on this point.”

Potentially more serious is his connections with Hani Yamani, the son of Sheikh Yamani, the wealthy former Saudi oil minister who set up Opec. Kojo acted as a director for Hani Yamani’s company and was a close business associate. The pair represented the coming together of two of the world’s most influential families. In 2001 Yamani lined up a deal to sell about $60m worth of Iraqi oil to a Moroccan company. The Sunday Times has statements from two close business associates of Yamani who claim that Kojo was involved in the deal. Kojo is alleged to have travelled to Morocco to help finalise the sale and was present at key meetings. However, the sale was abandoned by Yamani. It is not known if the oil was to have been bought direct from Saddam’s oil ministry or whether a third party was involved. A friend of Kojo’s said: “He was just trying to do Hani a favour. Believe me, Kojo is as straight as they come. In the end the deal never went through because Hani was trying to make an unrealistic profit.”

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