NEW YORK – United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) was allowed to supply whatever documents he thought were appropriate to Oil-for-Food investigators rather than having his offices searched, according to a source close to the investigation.
The revelation comes less than a week after two investigators with the independent panel probing Oil-for-Food, Robert Parton and Miranda Duncan, resigned. The panel is headed by Paul Volcker (search), a former chairman of the Federal Reserve.
A source, who spoke to FOX News on condition of anonymity, said the problem with information was that the people who were making the decisions of what documents to turn over to the Volcker committee were the same people who were under investigation.
“Volcker committee members chose not to require that they be allowed to search for documents in Kofi's office, meaning the individuals who made the decisions of what to produce were the individuals who were under investigation,” the source said.
A spokesman for the Volcker commission denied the panel, which Annan authorized to investigate the $64 billion program, had limited access. "Someone with an interest is pushing this nonsense out there. We had access to everything," said spokesman Michael Holtzman.
Volcker himself responded to that charge in an interview with FOX News.
"There should not be, and there has not been, any question as to whether the report itself reviewed all the investigators' leads in some considerable detail," Volcker said in an interviewed aired Tuesday.
The United Nations (search) also denied any impropriety. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Volcker’s team had access to all documents and people working in the secretary-general’s office.
Volcker’s panel, known officially as the Independent Inquiry Committee, thus far has released two interim reports into Oil-for-Food (search). The first looked at the internal management of the program and criticized the U.N. official tasked with running Oil-for-Food, Benon Sevan (search). The second looked at the role of the secretary-general and explored whether favoritism played a role in the awarding of U.N. contracts.
Problems with turning over documents represents the latest in a series of criticisms of the conduct of the Volcker committee, known officially as the Independent Inquiry Committee. Recently, FOX News spoke with the business partner of Kojo Annan (search), the secretary-general’s son who himself has been the subject of scrutiny into Oil-for-Food. Kojo Annan was a consultant for Cotecna (search), a Swiss-based company that won a U.N. contract in 1998 to verify the goods coming into Iraq.
Pierre Mouselli (search), Kojo Annan’s former partner, said the secretary-general was well aware of Kojo and his intentions to do business in Iraq.
“The secretary-general did not say, 'I am opening doors for you,'” Mouselli said. “But the secretary-general saw us and, you know, he wasn’t against what we were doing.”
Mouselli was describing what happened during a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Durban, South Africa, in September of 1998, which was attended by the secretary-general. Kofi Annan allowed his son and Mouselli to use an anteroom to the secretary-general’s office during the conference.
The pair met with politicians and other dignitaries coming to see the secretary-general and they handed out their business cards. Mouselli claims Kofi Annan knew whet they were doing and in fact on several occasions came out to talk to them. That claim would seem to contradict Kofi Annan's oft-stated position that he doesn't get involved in his son's business affairs.
During the three-day conference, Mouselli said he and Kofi Annan had several conversations and that he was sure the secretary-general knew the duo was interested in doing business in Iraq. The Durban conference took place about three months before Cotecna got the multi-million-dollar Oil-for-Food contract.
“We spoke about the companies. It was one company about oil, one for food and one for inspection,” Mouselli said about one conversation with Kofi Annan, who said he does not recall that discussion.
At the time of the conference, Mouselli had known Kojo Annan about two months. They met on July 14, 1998, at the French ambassador to Nigeria's residence during a Bastille Day party. After the Durban conference, the pair went to the United Nations for the General Assembly that September.
Kojo Annan and Mouselli created several businesses together, including K-P International Ltd., to handle potential future business interests in oil trading, food shipments, and inspections. None of the companies was actively traded.
Mouselli said he and Kojo Annan are no longer friends and he added that he would not get into business again with the younger Annan.
When Volcker released his report exploring the roles Kofi Annan and his son played in Oil-for-Food, he left out key details about the secretary-general’s awareness of his son’s business activities. The omission led Mouselli to hire a lawyer because he said he knows he provided those details.
“They were looking for a way of avoiding, drawing attention to facts that could be potentially embarrassing to the secretary-general. I had suspected that they were going to do a whitewash,” said Adrian Gonzalez, Mouselli’s lawyer.
Gonzalez said the committee, by keeping Mouselli’s claims out of the report, acted in an “unethical” way.
“I think they were aiming toward a result of exonerating the secretary-general, rightly or wrongly,” Gonzalez said.
In an interview with FOX News, Volcker said there was no agenda to spare Annan. "We are not meant to be soft or hard — we are out to get the facts and I've said from the beginning our responsibility is to follow the facts wherever they lead," Volcker said.
FOX News' Jonathan Hunt and Jonathan Wachtel contributed to this report.