VOLCKER THE IN-´CREDIBLE´ (NEW YORK POST EDITORIAL) 01/28/05)
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January 28, 2005 -- Paul Volcker was picked by U.N. Sec retary-
General Kofi Annan to head an "independent" panel to investi gate the
Oil-for-Food scandal ostensibly because of the former Federal Reserve
chairman´s international credibility.
But credibility, like fame, can be fleeting and Volcker´s is fading
Volcker hasn´t had much luck probing Oil-for-Food. He said,
bizarrely, "There´s no flaming red flags in this stuff" right
before federal investigators found, well, a flaming red flag: a
former agent for Saddam Hussein who pleaded guilty to taking millions
from the program and who is now singing like the proverbial canary.
But maybe luck has had nothing to do with Volcker´s unimpressive
As Fox News Channel´s Jonathan Hunt reported yesterday, Volcker is
smack in the middle of the interlocking global corporations that
appear to lie at the very heart of the scandal.
Proceed slowly; it´s complicated:
* Volcker, along with a close friend named Paul Desmarais, Sr., sits
on the advisory council of a Canadian company called the Power Corp.
* Power Corp. and a Belgian company co-own GBL the largest
shareholder in the French oil giant Total.
* Total just happens to have done nearly $2 billion worth of Oil-for-
* Total also has interests in BNP Paribas the New York-chartered
bank that underwrote nearly all Oil-for-Food transactions and in
Pargesa, another Power Corp. subsidiary.
* A BNP executive also happens to be on the board of Power along
with Volcker and Desmarais.
* Finally, Desmarais´ son, Paul Jr., is a director of Total (a
position the elder Desmarais once held).
There is nothing to indicate that Volcker himself has broken any
laws or done anything overtly unethical.
But certainly the former Fed chairman´s relationships with
individuals and companies implicated in the Oil-for-Food fiasco
compromises his ability to render a credible report on the scandal.
Again, however, the links may explain Volcker´s ineptitude as a
And they are significant enough to be advanced as a possible reason
why Volcker gave an interview in December suggesting that Saddam made
most of his money outside of the U.N. Oil-for-Food structure
pointing the finger instead at Jordan and Syria.
It was clear from the outset that any panel appointed by Annan would
lack credibility; in that sense, Volcker´s entanglements just add
details to the equation critical though they may be.
Volcker would do everybody a huge favor by simply resigning the
chairmanship of Kofi Annan´s phony panel and just disappearing
before he becomes "a flaming red flag." (Copyright 2005 NYP Holdings,
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