UNITED NATIONS – The son of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan will pay import duties he initially avoided by using his father's name while importing a Mercedes car into Ghana, according a letter his lawyer released Tuesday.
According to a U.N.-appointed commission report last September, Kojo Annan avoided $14,103 in import duties. He also received a discount of $6,541 on the price of the car by telling the dealership it was for his father.
"The automobile was not for the Secretary General's own personal use and therefore the exemption was not justified," William Taylor, Kojo Annan's lawyer, wrote in a letter sent last Thursday to Ghanaian officials. "I write to inform you that Mr. Kojo Annan wishes to make full payment of the amount due."
The U.N. report found no wrongdoing on the part of any U.N. official, despite initial suspicion that the car was used as a bribe from Swiss-based company Cotecna Inspection S.A. to Kofi Annan in return for the awarding of a multimillion-dollar contract in Iraq's oil-for-food program.
Taylor, in an e-mail reply to the AP on Tuesday, said he did not know if Ghana would accept payment of the import duties owed. He also said he did not know if Kojo Annan would face criminal charges in Ghana.
Stephane Dujarric, the secretary general's spokesman, underscored that no U.N. officials were implicated in the report.
"We want the money to be restituted to the Ghanaian authorities," Dujarric said.
At a year-end news conference in December, Kofi Annan complained about what he said was unfair media coverage of the Oil-for-Food investigation.
Annan then turned his attention to James Bone, a correspondent of The Times of London, who for months has raised questions about Kojo's purchase of the car. Annan said Bone was an "embarrassment" to his profession.