UNITED NATIONS -- Two senior investigators with the committee probing corruption in the UN oil-for-food program have resigned in protest, saying they believe a report that cleared Kofi Annan of meddling in the $64 billion operation was too soft on the secretary general, a panel member confirmed yesterday.
The investigators felt the Independent Inquiry Committee, led by former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, played down findings critical of Annan when it released an interim report in late March related to his son, said Mark Pieth, one of three leaders of the committee.
''You follow a trail, and you want to see people pick it up," Pieth said, referring to the two top investigators who left. The committee ''told the story" that the investigators presented, ''but we made different conclusions than they would have."
The investigators were identified as Robert Parton and Miranda Duncan. Parton was the lead investigator on issues pertaining to allegations of impropriety relating to the secretary-general and his son Kojo Annan. Duncan worked on Parton's team.
Parton confirmed yesterday that he resigned a week ago, but he declined to comment further.
Duncan did not respond to telephone and e-mail messages left at the Rockefeller Family Fund, where she is a member of the board.
The committee's interim report last month faulted Annan's management of the oil-for-food program, which was set up to help ordinary Iraqis cope with crippling UN sanctions imposed on Saddam Hussein's regime after his 1990 invasion of Kuwait.