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As UN Checks Toxins in Abidjan, the Dumper Trafigura Figured in Oil for Food Scandal, Funded by RBS and BNP Paribas

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN

  UNITED NATIONS, September 10 -- While in Ivory Coast the dumping of toxic chemicals by Trafigura Beheer BV has led to a new political crisis, it has emerged that the dumper Trafigura figured in the UN - Iraq Oil for Food scandal, alongside mining operations in Kazakhstan, derivatives and loans from such mega-banks as Royal Bank of Scotland, ING and BNP Paribas. The toxins were dealt out in at least nine places around the port of Abidjan, leaving five dead and over 7000 in need of medical treatment. How far the liability and accountability will spread is not yet known.

   Before the UN Environment Program sent investigators to Abidjan, at UN Headquarters on September 7, Inner City Press asked the spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the UN's position and actions to date on the spill. The spokesman responded that

"On this specific issue, the Prime Minister, Charles Konan Banny, spoke to Mr. Guehenno today, to brief him on the dissolution of the Government.  He told them the decision was made to ensure that all those who have a hand in what happened in the dump of the toxic waste, take full responsibility and are removed from Government jobs.  We obviously acknowledge the decision.  I think it is always good when people take responsibility for these sorts of things."

   Even cursory research finds the dumper, Trafigura Beheer BV, listed in various reports on the UN's Oil for Food program. Facts on File reports that:

"in May 2001, the Essex tanker, chartered by Dutch oil-trading company Trafigura Beheer BV, had been topped off with an extra 230,000 barrels after inspection at an off-shore Iraqi oil platform. Trafigura had purchased the oil in the shipment from French oil-services company Ibex Energy France. The cargo had been seized in the Caribbean Sea after the captain alerted U.S. and U.N. authorities. Later, according to the Journal, Ibex's general manager, Jean Paul Cayre, in an affidavit filed with Britain's High Court of Justice, had said the two companies performed the same routine with the Essex in 2000, under Trafigura's direction, paying Iraq $5.4 million for the extra oil. At Trafigura's direction, Cayre said, the two companies had shredded records of the deals and replaced them with false ones."

    Documents tie French President Jacques Chirac's friend Patrick Maugein to the 25 million barrels allocated to Trafigura Beheer BV, which employed Patrick's brother Philippe as a consultant. Trafigura was accused of evading taxes on oil imports into Thailand; the International Relations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has taken testimony on Trafigura's involving in the Sudanese oil industry.

Abidjan before the UN

    Public reporting on Trafigura comes even closer to the current UN.  The Financial Times' Claudio Gatti one year ago reported:

"Kojo Annan, son of Kofi Annan, United Nations secretary-general, received more than Dollars 750,000 from several oil trading companies now under investigation for their role in the UN's oil-for-food program (OFFP) for Iraq. The funds were dispatched between 2002 and 2003 to an account Kojo  Annan opened under his middle name - Adeyemo - in a Swiss branch of Coutts bank... In 2003, one company - Trafigura Beheer BV, a Dutch-based entity founded by traders who formerly worked for the then fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich - sent $247,500 to Kojo Annan's account at Coutts... The company found records of the payment in question, but explained that it was related to a transaction with PPI, the Nigerian company that employed Mr Annan as a director. 'The request (of payment) was received from a PPI fax and it was assumed that this was a PPI account.' Mr. Annan's lawyer said PPI 'conducted business with Trafigura in 2002 and 2003' clarifying the deals were confined to Nigerian gas oil and petrol. PPI's representative in Geneva is Michael Wilson, a Ghanaian friend of the Annan family, who has attracted scrutiny in the oil-for-food investigation. Mr Wilson and Mr Annan both worked for Cotecna, the Swiss inspection company that in 1998 received a UN contract under the oil-for-food program ultimately worth $60 million. Between spring 2002 and spring 2003, Mr Annan's Coutts account received over $200,000."

    Control of Coutts lay with Royal Bank of Scotland. As research into who funds and enables Trafigua continues, earlier this year Euromoney reported "BNP Paribas, ING and Royal Bank of Scotland's $300 million facility for commodity trading group Trafigura Beheer has closed."

  On Friday the UN said it is sending the UN Environment Program to investigate the toxic dumping in Abidjan. But the trail is not without self-reference, and leads well beyond the Ivory Coast. Bigger picture, Reuters reports that "countries that report to the Basel Convention, which monitors hazardous waste, produced around 108 million tonnes of the wastes in 2001, according to U.N. statistics. Uzbekistan was top with 26 percent of the total." Developing...

* * * *

   Also at the UN on Friday, Inner City Press asked outgoing General Assembly president Jan Eliasson to comment on the propriety of housing subsidies by governments to UN employees. Mr. Eliasson replied, "I think it's very important that we have a very good relationship with the UN staff.... I have one more working day, I will be available to the press at 1:30, maybe I will have picked up more information on this issue by then."

  After thanking President Eliasson in advance, Inner City Press sent his spokeswoman the following summary:

Should UN employees and officials be allowed to accept free or cut-rate housing from governments (most often, their countries of nationality)? The Secretariat has acknowledge that such housing subsidies by government do take place, and has said that they are okay as long as they are disclosed to the UN, and the value of the housing is deducted from UN compensation. The issue has continued, and on September 7 and September 8 Stephane Dujarric said he's looking into it to come up with "language," or an answer, because:

-Staff Regulations say that UN employees cannot accept gifts or remuneration from governments. (To that, Mr. Dujarric said housing is neither a gift or remuneration, a position which, when I conveyed it to Ghana's Ambassador led to the retort, "Give me a break.")

-Article 100 of the UN Charter requires loyalty to the UN, not one's nation; and

-The UN Financial Disclosure form says, in footnote 6, that such housing subsidies are prohibited unless expressly authorized by the Secretary-General.

  As a matter of UN reform, what does President Eliasson think of the issue? For example, does he think housing subsidies by government should be more clearly banned, and phased out?

   If not, does he think that the disclosures of who gets housing subsidies from a government should be publicly disclosed, so that the person's credibility / possible conflict of interest could be weighed?

   Separately, should the UN (and GA) adopt some post-employment restrictions when UN officials leave the Organization, to make sure they don't trade on their previous UN position to make money in the same countries in which they represented the UN?  (See Somalia article immediately below.)

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The UN Cries Poor on Lawless Somalia, While Its Ex-Security Chief Does Business Through Ruleless Revolving Door

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, September 6 -- The UN accepts military intelligence from governments it will not name, because the member states refuse to provide funds for such intelligence, the head of the UN Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari said Wednesday. Inner City Press had asked about Somalia, and UN DPA's previous statement that it relies for information on its office in Nairobi, which says it has no monitoring mandate in Somalia.

             "That it is based in Nairobi is instructive," answered Mr. Gambari, adding that the UN is keeping a close eye on Somalia and is "doing the best we can." He explained the lack of plans for any UN force to Somalia in terms of the lack of financing, pointing to the African Union's shortfall for its Darfur mission. "Where is the financing?" asked Prof. Gambari. He suggested increased use of such UN agencies and affiliates as the humanitarian unit OCHA and the UN Development Program.

   Mr. Gambari's response was decidedly more restrained that a recent online commentary by the ex-UN head of security for Somalia, American Wayne Long, who last month wrote of U.S. strategy in Somalia:

"in order to win a war like this at least cost in US lives, a true superpower plays the Great Game. Playing the black hats against the blacker hats of America's enemies saves US military lives and treasure - HELLO!!!"

  Call it conflict prevention. The above is online, as of September 6, at

            On September 6 at UN Headquarters, Inner City Press again asked about the reports of Ethiopian troops in Somalia and how the UN might at least confirm this. Mr. Gambari responded that "some governments share some intelligence, I don't want to mention names. Otherwise we would have no capacity. Member-states would not welcome the enhancement of the Secretariat in terms of intelligence gathering." Video here, from Minute 49:15.

Somalia per UN: Money Can Be Made

On UN Ethics, A Long Hypothetical -- Wayne Long, That Is

            Inner City Press' sources in Somalia provide a quite different picture of member-states' actions and intelligence gathering in Somalia, which is recounted here including to serves as a hypothetical for reform. They say that retired general William Garrison, who commanded U.S. forces in Somalia in 1993 and for identification purposes was played by Sam Shepherd in the movie Black Hawk Down, has been plotting for some time to open a private, for profit airport or landing strip in Somalia, and more recently to buy and run an airline, Trackmark.  They say that Garrison's entrepreneurialism, which may also not be unrelated to intelligence gathering, is being assisted by Wayne Long, who was previously the United Nations' head of security in Somalia. Mr. Long is an American, graduate of Texas A&M.

   Apparently unlike the UN Political Office on Somalia, Inner City Press in pursuing its monitoring mandate remains in contact with informed sources, and even... consults "open source" resources, otherwise known as the Internet. Whereon one finds ex-UN staffer Wayne Long, hiding in plain site. Listing his address, accurately, as Nairobi, Kenya, Mr. Long on August 3, 2006 posted an exasperated comment of a (U.S.) true believer:

"in order to win a war like this at least cost in US lives, a true superpower plays the Great Game. Playing the black hats against the blacker hats of America's enemies saves US military lives and treasure - HELLO!!!"

  This is online, as of September 6, at

  Slightly more diplomatic, writing as Wayne E. Long he has published an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune urging the U.S. to beef up its military with immigrants with green cards; the IHT op-ed, of March 1, 2006, identified him only as "a retired colonel in the U.S. Army," nothing about the UN.

            Contrary to Ibrahim Gambari's statement Wednesday that the UN must rely on unnamed governments for intelligence, some close observers note that the UN's operations in Somalia and places like it are "top-heavy with Americans," in part so that the U.S. can gather intelligence either on-the-cheap and/or under cover of the UN's blue flag. The revolving door profit making comes later (but may also be connected).

   As summarized by an Inner City Press source who has seen Mr. Long, in this case the UN employed as its chief security officer in a volatile country a gung-ho, red-blooded "use the black hats" American, who since leaving the UN is reportedly cashing in with dodgy business ventures in the same country in which he represented the United Nations.

            Wednesday afternoon Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric for an on-the-record statement about the existence or non-existence within the present UN, or that UN envisioned by Kofi Annan's reform proposals, of any safeguards against revolving doors by which former UN officials could make money in the locales of their UN tour of duty, using their UN contacts. A closed place UN source, insisting on not being identified, said he doubts any current rules prohibit it, since the rules were "made in the 1950s." Speaking on-the-record, Mr. Dujarric said he had asked upstairs and would provide an answer later on Wednesday. After 7 p.m. the following was provided to Inner City Press as an official on-the-record statement of the UN on its policy:

"After leaving its employment, the United Nations expects its staff members to conduct themselves in a manner which would not bring disrepute to the organization.

"The current UN staff rules and regulations only apply to serving staff. There are currently discussions in-house focusing on the subject of post-employment restrictions so as to avoid any possible conflict of interest. Substantive changes to staff rules would need to be approved by the General Assembly."

  The General Assembly meetings are about to begin. But it does not appear that Mr. Annan included any anti-resolving door or post-employment safeguards in his package of proposed reforms. Developing...

UN-Heard on Uighurs

            The UN's Alliance of Civilizations, or at least its High Level Group, has met in New York for the past two days. There have been stakeouts for photographer in the UN basement, on Tuesday, and on 1st Avenue and 46th Street on Thursday. The main "get," fruitlessly pursued by TV and print reporters, has been ex-Iranian president Katami. Following remarks he made in Chicago on his way to New York he has decided, or it has been decided for him, to not speak to the press.

            Appearing for a press conference Wednesday were the co-chairs of the Alliance, Mr. Federico Mayor of Spain and Mr. Mehmet Aydin of Turkey. The latter began by demanding that questions relate solely to the Alliance and its work. Okay then. Back in June 2006, Inner City Press asked Messrs. Mayor and Aydin what the Alliance was doing to the East, in China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Mr. Mayor back in June said, good question, and pointed out that there are representatives of China and India in the high level group. It's not just about Muslims and the West, they said.

            Now the Alliance's website uses as two of its three lead examples precisely this phrasing: the West, or Western societies. Click here to view. So on Wednesday Inner City Press asked what the Alliance has done, even in speaking to its Chinese representative Pan Guang, about the treatment of Uighurs, including those freed from Guantanamo Bay but now in limbo in Albania. (Most recently, it is reported that if Albania does not refoule these Uighurs, China's Security Council veto may impact the pending status talks on Kosovo.)

            "You are absolutely right," said Mr. Mayor, who went on to saying that in China "the authoritarian mechanisms are still there," and that the Alliance has to "denounce realities as they are." A fellow journalist noted that no concrete actions were mentioned in response (video here, from 30:30 to 31:30). Mr. Mayor said that the Alliance is deciding what to report and recommend to the Secretary General, "not only on religion but also on freedom of expression."

            On that, note that Uzbekistan has mostly recently denied the right of counsel to folk singer Dadakhon Khasanov, indicted by the Karimov government, for his song "Andijan." Click here to hear and download an MP3 of the song, and pass it on.

Other Inner City Press reports are archived on

Congo Shootout Triggers Kofi Annan Call, While Agent Orange Protest Yields Email from Old London

On the UN - Corporate Beat, Dow Chemical Luncheon Chickens Come Home to Roost

UN Bets the House on Lebanon, While Willfully Blind in Somalia and Pinned Down in Kinshasa

Stop Bank Branch Closings and Monopolies in the Katrina Zone, Group Says, Challenging Regions- AmSouth Merger

Ship-Breakers Missed by UN's Budget for Travel and Consultants in Bangladesh, Largest UNIFIL Troop Donor

Sudan Cites Hezbollah, While UN Dances Around Issues of Consent and Sex Abuse in the Congo, Passing the UNIFIL Hat

With Somalia on the Brink of Horn-Wide War, UN Avoids Question of Ethiopian Invasion

In UN's Lebanon Frenzy, Darfur Is Ignored As Are the Disabled, "If You Crave UNIFIL, Can't You Make Do With MONUC?"

UN Decries Uzbekistan's Use of Torture, While Helping It To Tax and Rule; Updates on UNIFIL and UNMIS Off-Message

At the UN, Lebanon Resolution Passes with Loophole, Amb. Gillerman Says It Has All Been Defensive

On Lebanon, Russian Gambit Focuses Franco-American Minds, Short Term Resolution Goes Blue Amid Flashes of Lightening

Africa Can Solve Its Own Problems, Ghanaian Minister Tells Inner City Press, On LRA Peace Talks and Kofi Annan's Views

At the UN, Jay-Z Floats Past Questions on Water Privatization and Sweatshops, Q'Orianka Kilcher in the Basement

In the UN Security Council, Speeches and Stasis as Haiti is Forgotten, for a Shebaa Farms Solution?

UN Silence on Congo Election and Uranium, Until It's To Iran or After a Ceasefire, and Council Rift on Kony

At the UN Some Middle Eastern Answers, Updates on Congo and Nepal While Silence on Somalia

On Lebanon, Franco-American Resolution Reviewed at UN in Weekend Security Council Meeting

UN Knew of Child Soldier Use by Two Warlords Whose Entry into Congo Army the UN Facilitated

Impunity's in the Air, at the UN in Kinshasa and NY, for Kony and Karim and MONUC for Kazana

UN Still Silent on Somalia, Despite Reported Invasion, In Lead-Up to More Congo Spin

UN's Guehenno Says Congo Warlord Just Needs Training, and Kazana Probe Continues

With Congo Elections Approaching, UN Issues Hasty Self-Exoneration as Annan Is Distracted

In DR Congo, UN Applauds Entry into Army of Child-Soldier Commander Along with Kidnapper

Spinning the Congo, UN Admits Hostage Deal with Warlord That Put Him in Congolese Army

At the UN, Dow Chemical's Invited In, While Teaming Up With Microsoft is Defended

Kofi Annan Questioned about Congolese Colonel Who Kidnapped Seven UN Soldiers

At the UN, Speeches While Gaza Stays Lightless and Insurance Not Yet Paid

At the UN Poorest Nations Discussed, Disgust at DRC Short Shrift, Future UN Justice?

At the UN Wordsmiths Are At Work on Zimbabwe, Kony,  Ivory Coast and Iran

UN Silent As Congolese Kidnapper of UN Peacekeepers Is Made An Army Colonel: News Analysis

At the UN, New Phrase Passes Resolution called Gangster-Like by North Korea; UK Deputy on the Law(less)

UN's Guehenno Speaks of "Political Overstretch" Undermining Peacekeeping in Lower Profile Zones

In Gaza Power Station, the Role of Enron and the U.S. Government's OPIC Revealed by UN Sources

At UN, North Korean Knot Attacked With Fifty Year Old Precedent, Game Continues Into Weekend

UN's Corporate Partnerships Will Be Reviewed, While New Teaming Up with Microsoft, and UNDP Continues

Gaza Resolution Vetoed by U.S., While North Korea Faces Veto and Chechnya Unread

BTC Briefing, Like Pipeline, Skirts Troublespots, Azeri Revelations

Conflicts of Interest in UNHCR Program with SocGen and Pictet Reveal Reform Rifts

At the UN, A Day of Resolutions on Gaza, North Korea and Iran, Georgia as Side Dish

UN Grapples with Somalia, While UNDP Funds Mugabe's Human Rights Unit, Without Explanation

In North Korean War of Words, Abuses in Uganda and Impunity Go Largely Ignored

On North Korea, Blue Words Move to a Saturday Showdown, UNDP Uzbek Stonewall

As the World Turns in Uganda and Korea, the UN Speaks only on Gaza, from Geneva

North Korea in the UN: Large Arms Supplant the Small, and Confusion on Uganda

UN Gives Mugabe Time with His Friendly Mediator, Refugees Abandoned

At the UN, Friday Night's Alright for Fighting; Annan Meets Mugabe

UN Acknowledges Abuse in Uganda, But What Did Donors Know and When? Kazakh Questions

In Uganda, UNDP to Make Belated Announcement of Program Halt, But Questions Remain (and see The New Vision, offsite).

Disarmament Abuse in Uganda Leads UN Agency to Suspend Its Work and Spending

Disarmament Abuse in Uganda Blamed on UNDP, Still Silent on Finance

Alleged Abuse in Disarmament in Uganda Known by UNDP, But Dollar Figures Still Not Given: What Did UN Know and When?

Strong Arm on Small Arms: Rift Within UN About Uganda's Involuntary Disarmament of Karamojong Villages

UN in Denial on Sudan, While Boldly Predicting the Future of Kosovo/a

UN's Selective Vision on Somalia and Wishful Thinking on Uighurs

UN Habitat Predicts The World Is a Ghetto, But Will Finance Be Addressed at Vancouver World Urban Forum?

At the UN, a Commando Unit to Quickly Stop Genocide is Proposed, by Diplomatic Sir Brian Urquhart

UN's Annan Concerned About Use of Terror's T-Word to Repress, Wants Freedom of Information

UN  Waffles on Human Rights in Central Asia and China; ICC on Kony and a Hero from Algiers

At the UN, Internal Justice Needs Reform, While in Timor Leste, Has Evidence Gone Missing?

UN & US, Transparency for Finance But Not Foreign Affairs: Somalia, Sovereignty and Senator Tom Coburn

In Bolton's Wake, Silence and Speech at the UN, Congo and Kony, Let the Games Begin

Pro-Poor Talk and a Critique of the World Trade Organization from a WTO Founder: In UN Lull, Ugandan Fog and Montenegrin Mufti

Human Rights Forgotten in UN's War of Words, Bolton versus Mark Malloch Brown: News Analysis

In Praise of Migration, UN Misses the Net and Bangalore While Going Soft on Financial Exclusion

UN Sees Somalia Through a Glass, Darkly, While Chomsky Speaks on Corporations and Everything But Congo

AIDS Ends at the UN? Side Deals on Patents, Side Notes on Japanese Corporations, Salvadoran and Violence in Burundi

On AIDS at the UN, Who Speaks and Who Remains Unseen

Corporate Spin on AIDS, Holbrooke's Kudos to Montenegro and its Independence (May 31, 2006)

Kinshasa Election Nightmares, from Ituri to Kasai. Au Revoir Allan Rock; the UN's Belly-Dancing

Working with Warlords, Insulated by Latrines: Somalia and Pakistan Addressed at the UN

The Silence of the Congo and Naomi Watts; Between Bolivia and the World Bank

Human Rights Council Has Its Own Hanging Chads; Cocky U.S. State Department Spins from SUVs

Child Labor and Cargill and Nestle; Iran, Darfur and WHO's on First with Bird Flu

Press Freedom? Editor Arrested by Congo-Brazzaville, As It Presides Over Security Council

The Place of the Cost-Cut UN in Europe's Torn-Up Heart;
Deafness to Consumers, Even by the Greens

Background Checks at the UN, But Not the Global Compact; Teaching Statistics from Turkmenbashi's Single Book

Ripped Off Worse in the Big Apple, by Citigroup and Chase: High Cost Mortgages Spread in Outer Boroughs in 2005, Study Finds

Burundi: Chaos at Camp for Congolese Refugees, Silence from UNHCR, While Reform's Debated by Forty Until 4 AM

In Liberia, From Nightmare to Challenge; Lack of Generosity to Egeland's CERF, Which China's Asked About

The Chadian Mirage: Beyond French Bombs, Is Exxon In the Cast? Asylum and the Uzbeks, Shadows of Stories to Come

Through the UN's One-Way Mirror, Sustainable Development To Be Discussed by Corporations, Even Nuclear Areva

Racial Disparities Grew Worse in 2005 at Citigroup, HSBC and Other Large Banks

Mine Your Own Business: Explosive Remnants of War and the Great Powers, Amid the Paparazzi

Human Rights Are Lost in the Mail: DR Congo Got the Letter, But the Process is Still Murky

Iraq's Oil to be Metered by Shell, While Basrah Project Remains Less than Clear

At the UN, Dues Threats and Presidents-Elect, Unanswered Greek Mission Questions

Kofi, Kony, Kagame and Coltan: This Moment in the Congo and Kampala

As Operation Swarmer Begins, UN's Qazi Denies It's Civil War and Has No Answers if Iraq's Oil is Being Metered

Cash Crop: In Nepal, Bhutanese Refugees Prohibited from Income Generation Even in their Camps

The Shorted and Shorting in Humanitarian Aid: From Davos to Darfur, the Numbers Don't Add Up

UN Reform: Transparency Later, Not Now -- At Least Not for AXA - WFP Insurance Contract

In Congolese Chaos, Shots Fired at U.N. Helicopter Gunship

In the Sudanese Crisis, Oil Revenue Goes Missing, UN Says

Empty Words on Money Laundering and Narcotics, from the UN and Georgia

What is the Sound of Eleven Uzbeks Disappearing? A Lack of Seats in Tashkent, a Turf War at UN

Kosovo: Of Collective Punishment and Electricity; Lights Out on Privatization of Ferronikeli Mines

Abkhazia: Cleansing and (Money) Laundering, Says Georgia

Post-Tsunami Human Rights Abuses, including by UNDP in the Maldives

Who Pays for the Global Bird Flu Fight? Not the Corporations, So Far - UN

Citigroup Dissembles at United Nations Environmental Conference

Other Inner City Press reports are archived on

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