Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Panama Papers' Annan Link Raised by ICP, Spox Dujarric Won't Comment, Ban's Future?
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, April 4 -- Amid a current financial scandal that the UN is trying to bury in a self-audit calling itself "partially satisfactory," a former UN scandal is echoed in the leaked Panama Papers.
Even with the underlying documents not fully released, one of those profiled was former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's son Kojo Annan, whose role in what was called the Oil for Food scandal led to many questions in the mid-aughts to Kofi Annan's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.
On April 4, Inner City Press asked Dujarric if he had any comment at all. No, was his answer.
Why not? Inner City Press asked. Dujarric said he is now the spokesman for the current Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. From the UN transcript:
Inner City Press: On the Panama Papers, I'm sure you saw that one of the cases profiled by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists has to do with Kojo Annan. And since I know that you were the Spokesman for Kofi Annan and responded to a number of questions about the Mercedes and other things, what do you think of the appearance of… what… do you have a comment?
Inner City Press: Is there a UN comment?
Inner City Press: Or a personal comment? Why not?
Spokesman: Because I speak for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and what… the affairs of the offspring of a previous Secretary-General is really not for me to comment on.
With Ban and some close to him embroiled in a bribery scandal, one wonders who will be dodging questions about Team Ban after the Next SG takes over? Watch this site.
From fusion: "Then [sic] only son of former U.N. head Kofi Annan courted controversy in 1998, when a firm of his won a big contract under the U.N.’s Oil-for-Food humanitarian program in Iraq. An inquiry eventually cleared father and son of any corruption in the deal. Internal Mossack Fonseca documents show Koji Annan has held several offshore shell companies, using one to purchase a half-million-dollar apartment in central London. A spokesman for Annan said his business was for 'normal, legal purposes of managing family and business matters and has been fully disclosed in accordance with applicable laws.'"
It's worth noting that this same exact phrase "normal, legal purposes of managing family and business matters" wasused to ICIJ by a spokesperson, presumably the same one, for the widow of banker Edmond Safra:
"A spokesman for Lily Safra told ICIJ 'any accounts held by Mrs. Safra or the Edmond J. Safra Foundation would have been opened solely for normal, legal purposes of managing family and business matters.'"
Are there other Panama Papers connection to the UN and the scandal now swirling around it, from Sheri Yan and Ng Lap Seng and his South South News to those who took South South News' money, photographs for Ng, Ban Ki-moon. This is particularly important as the next UN Secretary General is selected. We'll have more on this.
The UN's unwillingness to address the obvious corruption of South South News, to which it has given awards and Ban Ki-moon photo ops via its UN Correspondents Association, and whose Ng Lap Seng bought documents from Ban's Secretariat, has become even more clear -- though not in the UN's favored media.
For months Inner City Press has asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the Secretariat stafferwho put out a "reissued for technical reasons" General Assembly document listing Ng Lap Seng's company and South South News.
Now that the corruption is flagged in the largely whitewash Office of Internal Oversight Services audit, there is still no indication that the Secretariat staffer has been identified, including for and to the prosecutors.
And the insider media that Dujarric speaks / leaks to --while walking out on Inner City Press' questions -- doesn't ask. In fact, while Reuters has a permanent seat on the board of the UN Correspondents Association, which took South South News' money and gave Ng a photo op with Ban Ki-moon (UNCA's vice president also went to Ng's Macau conference listed in the audit), none of this is disclosed by Reuters. This is a continuing cover up, on which we'll have more.
Inner City Press repeatedly asked Dujarric and UNDP, which has yet to answer, about the i-Pads and involvement in the conference. But there are many more questions not addressed in this whitewash.
And Dujarric and Ban's head "Communications" official Cristina Gallach, who attended Ng's South South Awardsand was questioned by Inner City Press about it, then ordered Inner City Press ousted without due process - nowplan a total eviction of Inner City Press on April 6. This is a cover up, and corrupt.
Last week Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric read out a statement that Ban's “Task Force” report on corruption had been circulated, limited to structural flaws in the Office of the President of the General Assembly.
Inner City Press, facing eviction from the UN for seeking to cover an event by one of Ng's and South South News' fundees, UNCA, in the UN Press Briefing Room, asked why Ban wasn't studying corruption in his own Secretariat.Video here.
On April 1, Inner Cit Press Dujarric this, transcript here:
Inner City Press: I understand that we're waiting to get these audits that you said have been finished released, but in the same way that, that there seems to have been no answer on whether the Secretariat, outside of the audit process, identified who it was in the Secretariat that modified the document of… for the Macau Centre. I wanted to ask you about paragraph 48(H) of the criminal complaint where it talks about, you know, the… the “Kenyan UN Official One” and it describes in great detail… basically, it seems pretty clear the person took money in order to do various things. And it's described as a Kenyan. So, my question is, doesn't seem… there's nothing in the paragraphs before or after that that refer to either Sun Kian Ip Foundation or Global Sustainability Foundation. So, it's something that wouldn't appear to be dealt with by the audits. What is the UN's response to this…
Spokesman: The audits are a first step, and we'll see what comes out of it.
Inner City Press: But if the audits…
Spokesman: I think we have to wait for the audits to be finalized.
Inner City Press: Okay. And when will that… will they come out?
Spokesman: I should have an answer for you later this afternoon.
And yet nothing was provided.
On March 31, Inner City Press asked Dujarric this, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: on corruption, there's a lot of focus has been on Ng Lap Seng, but on the side of it that Sheri Yan and the Global Sustainability Foundation, there's reporting… and I'm going to read to you from a published report. It says, the United Nations has ordered an investigation of Chong… of Chau Chak Wing, the boss of Guangzhou Kinggold Group, which is basically the money behind Sheri Yan that was flowed into the Global Sustainability Foundation, which paid for the slavery memorial at the founding of which Ban Ki-moon's spouse and Mr. Nambiar were present. Is this, in fact, true? Is the UN actually doing more investigation than I'm aware of, or is this report false and you're not investigating…?
Spokesman Dujarric: I haven't seen the report. If you send it to me, as I said, I will look at anything that is shown to me.
Dujarric, whose answers show him closely reading his tweets these days, was sent the quote. Nothing. Nothing at all.
Part of the answer, not given by Dujarric on March 29 or admitted by him on March 30 when Inner City Press asked, was that Ban's personal lawyer Miguel de Serpa Soares was on the "Task Force," one of only three members. On March 30, Inner City Press asked Dujarric about this, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: I hadn't seen when you were reading out the task force report on UN PGA office. And upon seeing it, I noticed one of the three members is also Miguel de Serpa Soares, who is… is my understanding, as well as Under-Secretary-General of Legal Affairs, also the counsel to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. So, I wanted to know, given, even though the way it's been structured is this was only a look at the PGA's office, given… when you read the criminal complaint, there are number of references to the Secretariat. How would you respond to those who say, as Ban Ki-moon's lawyer, Mr. Serpa Soares has a legal, ethical duty not to find anything wrong by Ban Ki-moon? He's literally required. It would be unethical for him to say, I have found wrongdoing with the Secretariat.