Previewing the Volcker Investigation

The Heritage Foundation has released a paper providing guidance on how to judge the report the Volcker Investigation is releasing today.

Heritage’s Nile Gardner says there is a “strong possibility” the report will be a “whitewash of most of the U.N.’s leadership, including the Secretary-General.”

The Volcker Committee lacks, Gardner says, the powers it needs to conduct a full inquiry:

The Independent Inquiry Committee is severely handicapped by its dearth of investigative power. Even if it wanted to, the committee clearly does not possess the means to fully investigate this gigantic scandal. As outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Danforth has pointed out, the IIC is not equipped with the necessary tools to conduct a thorough investigation:

The fact that [Volcker] doesn’t have subpoena power, he doesn’t have a grand jury, he can’t compel testimony, he can’t compel production of documents and witnesses and documents that are located in other countries might be beyond his reach…

Those are tremendous handicaps…. [W]hat is possible, is that his focus would move from the bad acts, from the criminal offenses to something that he will view as more manageable – namely the procedures and was it a tight enough procedural system, which might be interesting but not the key question to investigate.

At the same time, there are also major questions regarding the independence of the Volcker Committee…. It remains unclear how many former U.N. employees are involved with the committee. It is self-evident that a truly independent inquiry into U.N. corruption should not be staffed either by former U.N. employees or by any other people with significant ties to the U.N.

Without any kind of external oversight, the Volcker Committee is clearly open to U.N. manipulation…

Addendum, Feb. 4: Everything I Know Is Wrong has a good write-up of the Volcker report.

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