15 November 2005
Question: On the Volcker report, has the Indian Government made any representation to the Secretary-General
about Natwar Singh, the Indian Foreign Minister, being named as a beneficiary in the oil-for-food programme?
Deputy Spokesman: On that issue, as of now, I cannot confirm that a letter has been received on the 38th
floor, but I do have a statement regarding, more generically, the oil-for-food programme that may help you:
"The five reports of the Independent Inquiry into the oil-for-food programme chaired by Paul Volcker are the
culmination of an 18-month investigation into all aspects of the programme. The five public reports have been issued
by the IIC and represent the findings and conclusions of that independent inquiry, which is a fact-finding body and
cannot make any binding judicial determination of fact or law. This information enables the United Nations and
national authorities to further investigate and, if appropriate, take action against individuals or corporations
under their jurisdiction. A number of national authorities have already commenced or announced their intention to
undertake follow-up inquiries concerning individuals and companies based on information contained in the final report.
The IIC and the United Nations are willing to cooperate as appropriate."
Question: The Indian Ambassador to the UN has been quoted in press releases as saying he has taken up
the matter with the Secretary-General of the UN, and since then Mr. Natwar Singh, the Indian Foreign Minister, has
even been removed from the post. Has any representation been made to the Secretary-General?
Deputy Spokesman: I answered that at the beginning. As of now, I cannot confirm that a letter was
received on the 38th floor but I can check with you after the briefing. It may be a matter of the traffic getting
Question: There are reports from New Delhi, at this point in time, that Mr. Natwar Singh said that
Mr. Shashi Tharoor assured him that there is nothing much in the report. And, that Mr. Tharoor is in New Delhi now
in order to clarify that.
Deputy Spokesman: I am not Mr. Tharoorís spokesman. So, youíre going to have to talk with Mr. Tharoor
directly. I think he is in New Delhi. I think he is there. I actually donít know in what capacity he is there.
I donít know what heís talked to the press about.
Question: Who is his spokesman since heís the head of the Department of Public Information?
Deputy Spokesman: Heís his own spokesman.
Question: So, we have to ask him, are you saying?
Deputy Spokesman: What was the question again? To clarify his quote, is that it?
Question: My question is that Mr. Natwar Singh was quoted in the New Delhi press and television that he
was assured by Mr. Tharoor that there is nothing in this Volcker report, it is to be disregarded and that it is
nothing much. And this is what, as I understand it, what Mr. Tharoor has rushed to New Delhi to clarify his position.
Deputy Spokesman: I think his trip to India had been planned. I can try to find out for you what
the exact purpose of his visit is. As for his quotes, I wasnít there but I can certainly clarify for you whether
he said that or not. Evelyn.
Question: Two questions. Now that the Volcker Commission has ended, is there any kind of international
sense of what is, and collating of who is doing what follow-up or is it now purely in the hands of each country to
determine on their own?
Deputy Spokesman: The Commission has not disbanded yet. It is functional as a commission until the end
of this month, so it is still continuing with the follow-up and, as I just mentioned, it is cooperating with the
appropriate national authorities.
Question: Does the UN have any sense, that basically, as the guardian of this programme, some, now,
oversight and also as the body that commissioned this report, that you have some oversight, monitoring, follow-up,
implementation, all the words that are endlessly trotted out by the UN, over the follow-up to this report? Or is
it just now left to float in the wind?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, as I just mentioned, I just read you a statement saying the ICC and the UN are
willing to cooperate. The Commission is as of now, still operational for the month. And the arrangements for the
continuation of that are being discussed right now. I donít have anything to announce for you in terms of what form
that will take.
Question: You say there will be some kind of monitoring, oversight, follow-up kind of?
Deputy Spokesman: Absolutely.
Question: Does the UN consider it appropriate that Shashi represents himself as an independent author on
his own website?
Deputy Spokesman: I think, as long as any UN official gets approval from the proper channels...
Question: Who is he getting approval from in this case?
Deputy Spokesman: Iíd have to look into that for you.
Question: Were Shashi Tharoorís comments approved by anybody in the Secretariat?
Deputy Spokesman: I canít even confirm that he said that so letís not go there..
Question: You say that the IOSC report enabled the UN and other authorities to further investigate.
Why is it that every time we ask anything about the Volcker report, the answer is, "Itís in the Volcker Report"?
Weíre asking about further investigation, which now you confirm the UN is authorized to do. Why is that we
always get the same stock answer, "Volcker dealt with it. Itís over and done with"? There are question marks still
lingering after the Volcker report.
Deputy Spokesman: Because the basis was laid by the Volcker report. The Volcker report put out the facts
and it is now up to the national authorities and it is up to the United Nations to follow-up on what is there.
Question: The questions we are asking about are about question marks that remain after the Volcker report,
including where the car is, what ever happened to the car, what happened to the letter, things that are exactly in
the realm of further investigation.
Deputy Spokesman: I donít know what letter youíre talking about. As for the car --
Question: The letter that was written or not written or was asked as a favour to be written and never
showed up. Was it shredded? What ever happened to it? Nobody knows. The only one who could know is the UN. And
weíve been asking, whatever happened to that letter and the stock answer was always, "Itís in the Volcker report".
But, weíre asking for further investigation which youíre saying now is [inaudible].
Deputy Spokesman: The "further investigation", though, is based on what is presented in the Volcker
report. Based on the evidence provided, weíre saying that itís up to national authorities and the UN to take action
Question: "And the UN". I heard "and the UN".
Deputy Spokesman: Yes. "And the UN".
Question: The question about the car is the fact that the Volcker report says that a car was bought in
the Secretary-Generalís name and the question we are asking is, does the Secretary-General still own the car?
Deputy Spokesman: If there is any more information on this car, Iíll get back to you. Iíve been saying
for the last 10 minutes, I have no information on this car.
Question: Similarly, the question about Janneh, is that apparently he applied for a tax exemption, which
he wasnít entitled to do, at the behest of the Secretary-General or his son. Youíre not telling me UN officials are
allowed to perform their official functions at the behest of...
Deputy Spokesman: I also told you that if there is anything further on this Iíll get back to you. I do
not have any information on what you are saying and we have Jan Egeland here to talk about the first
Question: Weíll have time for Jan Egeland. One other question is, in this room, a few days ago, it was
announced that there was some kind of panel being set up to examine the Volcker report to see what follow-up action
the UN should take. Has that panel been formed? Has it decided on any follow-up action? Whoís on that panel?
Deputy Spokesman: Iíll ask Chris Burnham.
Question: Thereís, at least, one lawsuit by at least one, by Sandi Oil, an oil company in South Africa,
against the Commission, or is about to file in New York and against the UN. Two questions. Are you aware of this
and any other lawsuits that might be coming out of the Volcker report? And can, in fact, the UN be sued and can the
commissioners be sued?
Deputy Spokesman: I donít have an answer to your last question. Iíll have to get back to you on that.
(THE FOLLOWING DAY...)
Question: This letter that was received by the Secretary-General, by the Congress Party. Do you have the
contextual letter available for the press?
Deputy Spokesman: No, we donít.
Question: And does this office intend to forward it to the Inquiry Commission?
Deputy Spokesman: Yes we have received the letter, and yes we will be forwarding it on to the Commission.
Question: Now, given what is happening in India at this time, the big storm after the demotion of the
Foreign Minister and everything else, and there are investigations going on and theyíre now saying they will sue
the IIC, I guess and basically they were saying the United Nations and now they retracted and said itís going to
be IIC. In that view, will IIC remain in session when a lawsuit is filed? Will it continue to function?
Deputy Spokesman: I think you have to pose those questions to the ICC. The Commission, as you know, is in
existence until the end of this month.
Question: In the United Nations, if the Inquiry Commission wants to stay in session, if it is sued by the
Indian Government, because it takes exception to the fact that it was named in the report, will the United Nations
allow it to continue to function? Can someone tell me the answer to that?
Deputy Spokesman: I donít have an answer to that. Right now I think you have to refer all questions about
the Commission to the Commission itself.
(AND THE FOLLOWING DAY...)
Question: Last time, two days ago, we asked you for information about what was being done in the Volcker
follow-up. There was some kind of committee being set up to read the Volcker report and see what follow-up was needed.
Can you tell us just who was on the committee, which department it was in, what the status of its work was? Can you
update us on that?
Deputy Spokesman: You asked me the other day what efforts, I think you asked me a question about what Chris
Burnham had said at his briefing.
Question: No, I asked ... and Stťphane had said that there was some kind of committee set up to read the
Volcker report, which obviously would be a good idea, and to see whether further action was needed in any aspects.
And I asked who was on the board and what they were doing.
Deputy Spokesman: I donít have any specific information on that. I think I answered your colleagueís
question earlier this week about the follow-up mechanism, and I said that the commission is still in place, and that
a follow-up to that is being discussed. As for the follow-up to the last Volcker report, the only thing I can tell
you on that is that the UN is currently examining all companies named in the report and cross-checking them against
its list of approved vendors, and that process, I understand, has begun. In terms of committees, I donít know
Question: Well, Stťphane didnít answer it. Is there any kind of (inaudible) internal mechanism for
Volcker follow-up? is the question.
Deputy Spokesman: There is. The UN is, as I said, mainly through the Department of Management, looking
Question: The question is what is the internal mechanism?
Deputy Spokesman: Let me get you the details on that. Iíve asked for the details.
Question: You said the UN is examining all the companies named in the report and cross-checking them
against the list of approved vendors. Is that with a view to removing companies who are named in the report from
your list of approved vendors?
Deputy Spokesman: Where appropriate and with the full respect for due process, such companies may be
suspended from doing business with the United Nations, pending further investigation and clarification of their
role in the oil-for-food programme.
Question: So, how does this work and when are decisions going to be made, and do you follow up with
specific investigations with comp -- whatís the process here?
Deputy Spokesman: This is something that is just beginning, so I have nothing further on this now, but,
as I just mentioned to James, if I get more details on the mechanism and the time line, I will let you know.
Question: When the Volcker Commission ceases to function, which you said is the end of this month, what
youíre saying is all the documents will be sent to the United Nations, right?
Deputy Spokesman: I did not say that. Right now the Volcker commission is in existence, as I said, until
the end of this month. Any question beyond that is right now a hypothetical one.
Question: Where does the documentation end up when they end their reign, whatever it is? Where does it
end up, all these documents?
Deputy Spokesman: The precise details of that are being discussed right now, as they have still more than
three weeks before they close shop.
Question: Mr. Volcker said at his press conference that the documents would go to the UN, and that it
would be up to the UN to make them public. Is the UN intending to make any or all of the Volcker documentation public...
Deputy Spokesman: As I --
Question: (inaudible) including the interviews with the Secretary-General?
Deputy Spokesman: I have nothing beyond what Iíve said on this, that right now the precise details of
the documentation are being discussed between the UN and the committee.
Question: On another subject, are there any developments with regard to the work of the Alliance of
Civilizations, and would it have any relationship to the project that will be launched tomorrow called Alliance
for Humanity by Deepak Chopra and the Guatemalan Mission?
Deputy Spokesman: As far as I know, tomorrowís project is something being arranged by the Guatemalan
Mission and, as of now, I donít have anything further on the Alliance, the other alliance that you are referring to.
Question: Clarify something. Does the Secretary-General not consider it an adverse finding that an
official, whoís acting in his official capacity, claiming a tax exemption on behalf of the UN, and heís doing it
at the behest of the Secretary Generalís son, apparently with no contact with any UN officials?
Deputy Spokesman: The report did not come up with adverse findings, and...
Question: (inaudible) financial situation.
Deputy Spokesman: ...we have nothing further to say. You can ask me many times, but I have nothing...
Question: Let me ask you another question. Why is the UN preaching accountability when people can do
things at the behest of outside individuals in their official capacities and not be brought to account? Isnít
Deputy Spokesman: I have nothing further to say. This question stems from your repeated questions
every day, and I have nothing further...
Question: OK, just to clarify. Could you clarify then your comment, your policy is not to comment on
anything in the Volcker report now, is that right? I thought weíd understood from what youíd said the other day
that there was an investigation based on what was brought to light in the Volcker report.
Deputy Spokesman: I said we would be cooperating with, I would like to refer you to the statement that
we had, and I donít want to read it over again, but in terms of going over...
Question: (inaudible), because you donít think from memory, to the UN, as well as national Governments
was investigating, so Iím asking you in this particular case if Mr. Janneh, is he under investigation? Is the
UN doing anything to investigate?
Deputy Spokesman: We have, the exact line from the report, from the remarks that I read, was that the
UN and national authorities, if appropriate, will...
Question: Just a quick question. Would it not be appropriate, in the circumstance where a UN official
is performing official functions at the behest of an outside individual whoís not a member of the UN, would it not
be appropriate for the UN to investigate why that person is acting in that way?
Deputy Spokesman: You are asking the same question over and over again. We have nothing to say on the
official that youíre referring to and the case that youíre referring to, and I...
Question: Is it the case actually that that official received official sanction from the UN Secretariat
for doing what he did in his official capacity?
Deputy Spokesman: I have nothing further to say on this subject. Iím sorry.
Question: Is Shashi Tharoor on official UN business in India? Is the UN paying for him to be there?
Deputy Spokesman: Yesterday I mentioned to you, when I was clarifying a question from the previous day,
that he is on leave in India.
Question: And there were some remarks that heíd given in which heíd said that national Governments would
have to follow up on some of the claims made in the Volcker report, and he said the Volcker report was not a
judge or a jury. I wondered if you could explain the apparent contradiction between that and the decision by the
UN to unilaterally fire Joe Stephanides, based on the findings of the report?
Deputy Spokesman: On Shashi Tharoorís comments, yesterday I issued a clarification, after I spoke to him,
on his comments on the reports that I was asked about, so Iíd like to refer you to that, and I have no comment right
now on your other question.
Question: In the Volcker report, when it describes the meeting between Kojo Annan and Kofi Annan in the
Hotel Crillon on November 28, 1998, a time that the Cotecna bid was being considered, Mike Wilson says that he was
in the lobby of the Crillon Hotel and actually spoke to Kojo Annan while he was upstairs in the Secretary-Generalís
room. Was the Secretary-General aware that his son was talking to Mike Wilson on the cellphone from his room while
Michael Wilson was in the lobby downstairs?
Deputy Spokesman: Weíre not reopening the investigation. The Volcker Commission has finished its work in
looking into this matter.
Question: Can you update us on the follow-up action? Iím confused, whatís the follow-up action now that
the investigation is complete?
Deputy Spokesman: I just told you at the beginning of this meeting, so letís...
Question: Well, you were unable to tell me what the follow-up action was, so Iím pressing you on that point.
Deputy Spokesman: I mentioned to you that currently the Commission is still in place, that the UN is
looking into arrangements for when the Commissionís existence will end, at the end of the month. I also told you
that the UN is currently examining the companies named in the report, and in terms of the other recommendations
on follow-up to the Volcker report, we had Chris Burnham come here and talk to you about management reform. We
have various UN reform proposals going forward, and I just told Mark Turner that I would look into the latest
proposal that he said was submitted, so...
SO. THE FARCE CONTINUES!