Global Policy Forum

UN Asks US Firm to Follow

April 18, 2001

U.N. Security Council members have decided to hire a corporate private investigator to trace cash used by Angola's UNITA rebels, under arms, oil and diamond trade sanctions for conducting a protracted civil war, diplomats said on Wednesday. The New York-based company, Kroll Associates, was engaged by the council's Angola sanctions committee, headed by Ireland's U.N. Ambassador Richard Ryan, to give the panel ongoing intelligence on the rebels' guns-for-gems trade.

The action is an unusual departure for the United Nations, which has usually gathered data from governments rather than professional investigators. Kroll, once U.N. officials approve terms of the contract, is to receive a fee of about $75,000 plus expenses for a 16-week probe, the envoys said. Kroll first did a "feasibility study" last year, which lay dormant but then received backing from council members as well as Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the envoys said. Kroll's specialty is aiding multinational firms, banks and other businesses in a variety of intelligence and security probes.

A U.N. report on Angola, organized by Canada, broke new ground last March in naming government leaders, business firms, and various diamond and arms smugglers who helped UNITA, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, resume a civil war that began more than a quarter of a century ago.

Kroll would attempt to uncover where UNITA hides its money. Stories are legion from bankrolls under mattresses to channels to accounts under shell companies. But the council's panel insists legal methods have to be used to gather the data. "The investigation is being done on Angola because what is needed in that situation is in-depth probing of the financial networks named in the initial report, to verify the allegations," one Security Council envoy said. Ryan, who visited Angola recently, said the sanctions had begun to bite but that highly organized networks were continuing the trade in illicit diamonds.

The initial "name and shame" report last March said that UNITA, with few difficulties, had been able to circumvent sanctions, using diamonds to buy weapons in eastern Europe, with the help of African governments, lax controls in Belgium's diamond market and a network of smugglers.

Canada had wanted a permanent investigatory body at the United Nations to continue probing the Angola smuggling network as well as reports of "conflict diamonds" from Sierra Leone as well as a host of minerals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But the council is still divided on this.

The Angolan government and UNITA have been fighting intermittently since the country gained independence from Portugal in 1975. The war has resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties and the uprooting of about a quarter of the population of some 12 million.

More Information on Angola
More Information on Sanctions
More Information on Diamonds in Conflict


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.