U.N. chief wants distance from inquiry

June 16, 2005 at 3:44 PM

UNITED NATIONS, June 16 (UPI) -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says he does not want to be drawn into discussion about involvement in the Iraq Oil-for-Food Program scandal.

Annan said he would leave it to the inquiry committee headed by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to get to the bottom of the allegations. Annan spoke to reporters Thursday on his return to U.N. headquarters in New York from a trip to Europe.

An e-mail memo disclosed Tuesday said the secretary-general met with a Cotecna employee, Michael Wilson, in 1998. But a law firm representing Wilson denied late Wednesday he ever met Annan. The memo suggested the secretary-general's involvement could have helped the Swiss firm get the contract it eventually won with the program.

Asked if he ever met Wilson, Annan said he would let Volcker look into that. The secretary-general added he gave the inquiry committee all he knows and urged a reporter, "resist the temptation to substitute yourself for the Volcker commission."

Annan also said he continued to urge his son Kojo, a former Cotecna employee, to cooperate with the inquiry committee.

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