WASHINGTON – Documents released Wednesday by the House International Relations Committee offer the first real glimpse at just how close Oil-for-Food investigators came to concluding Kofi Annan lied to them, a finding that would almost certainly have brought about the U.N. secretary-general's downfall.
Click in the video box to the right to watch a report by FOX News' Jonathan Hunt.
The documents show a clear difference of opinion on Annan's testimony within the Oil-for-Food Inquiry Committee. Chairman Paul Volcker overruled the investigator who actually interviewed Annan. That investigator, Robert Parton, then resigned in protest.
The documents include a transcript of a March 8 meeting between Volcker and other members of his team at which time they discussed Annan's role in the Oil-for-Food scandal and how truthful Annan had been in his interviews with investigators.
According to the papers, asked if Annan lied, Volcker said: "Well, my general feeling about the report is that if you accuse him of lying, he is gone and I don't know if we have the evidence to make that accusation. But we have a lot of unexplained business. The facts will speak for themselves, but we can't conclude he lied. But other people may conclude that."
Parton saw the situation differently.
"You start adding up a collection of individual points — maybe no one of them is sufficient alone but when you add them together I don't believe him on our standard of proof."
In the documents, Volcker asked Parton what the standard of proof is for the investigation, to which Parton replied: "More likely than not."
Volcker argued that is not a standard to which the committee agreed. "I am not prepared to hang Kofi Annan on that," he said. Volcker then ruled that there was not "reasonably sufficient evidence" to conclude that Annan lied.
In his testimony behind closed doors to the House panel, Parton said "reasonably sufficient evidence" is not a legally-accepted term because it is too subjective, and that Volcker's committee had previously agreed to judge each individual on the commonly used "more likely than not" standard of proof.
Legal scholars who spoke to FOX News backed Parton's claim that "reasonably sufficient evidence" is not a legal standard. Parton is now prevented from talking publicly because Volcker and the United Nations obtained a seven-year injunction against him.