So, the Interim report is out. And, as expected, it’s a doozy, but perhaps not totally for the reasons we thought it would be. Because it is so long, and there is a ton of really interesting stuff, I’m going to keep adding to this post as I read. I’ll add to the bottom so that you can catch up with what I’m reading.
You can download the whole thing from my site here.
Here’s some parts that I find interesting:
(note: the PDF is password protected, which means i can’t copy/paste… which totally sucks, so forgive me for any typographical errors and shortcuts I might take, I promise not to alter the text in any way, you can always find the section I am quoting in the original document)
Under ‘Procurement’, the selection of the Bank.
On June 2, 1996, Mr. Takasu sent a note to the Secretary-General with a short list of six banks chosen according to three financial criteria developerd by the United Nations Treasury…
BNP (“Banque Nationale de Paris”) did not meet Tresury’s criteria, but it nonetheless was included because of Iraq’s response to the long list.
According to this analysis, Credit Suisse… became Treasury’s bank of choice. Thus, Credit Suisse won the competition, but not the contract, which was awarded on June 18, 1996 to BNP. Why?
Iraq’s communications to Mr. Takasu reflect a stated preference for either a French or Swiss bank…
It is also apparent that the United States had concerns about selecting a Swiss bank… [they] stated three problems: lack of transparency; Switzerland was then a non-member of the [UN]…; Saddam Hussein… maintained accounts in Switzerland…
Ultimately, the selection fell to [the Secretary-General]. Apparently, [Iraq] indicated a preference for BNP, and the [S-G] acquiesed.
[From Mr. Boutros-Ghali]
“The choice of the Bank BNP for the programme for the escrow account was done in agreement with the American delegation and the Iraqi delegation. It was a political decision to be able to implement the [MoU] which was approved by the Security Council.”
Finally, the Committee wishes to note that after BNP was selected a Senior Legal Office with OLA was assigned to assist in negotiating the contract with BNP…. The legal office, in turn, requested formal documentation of this process… in order to determine that the selection had been in compliance with the competitive bidding rules. Despite repeated inquiries, neither the documentation nor the briefing ever was provided.
Kofi Annan has already responded, and the BBC has the full text of that response.
In it Annan says:
I asked Mr Paul Volcker, Justice Richard Goldstone and Professor Mark Pieth, three men of extraordinary distinction in their respective fields of finance, law and criminology, men whose integrity and competence is beyond doubt to conduct that inquiry.
I made clear when I set up the inquiry that appropriate action, with full regard for due process, would be taken against individuals or entities found to have violated the rules or procedures of the UN.
Accordingly, I have today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Joseph Stephanides, the person named in the report who is still on active duty, and against Benon Sevan, the former head the Office of the Iraq Programme, against whom the report contains extremely troubling evidence of wrongdoing.
Mr Sevan has retired from active duties but has, until now, been kept on staff at a token salary to ensure his availability to the inquiry.
Should any findings of the inquiry give rise to criminal charges, the United Nations will co-operate with national law enforcement authorities pursuing those charges, and in the interests of justice I will waive the diplomatic immunity of the staff member concerned.
I note, in particular, their intention to publish a further interim report dealing with questions related to the procurement of a contractor that employed my son. I hope that report will come soon, and I await its findings with a clear conscience.