Friday, February 02, 2007

Audit report alleges corruption at U.N.

Crossposted from The HILL Chronicles


I received word of this from a reader. Apparently an audit report alleges corruption at the U.N. - not that that in and of itself surprises any of us. We are all fully aware of the corruption that exists within the U.N. - and this is just one more item to add to the list that is increasingly growing long and ugly.

Via International Herald Tribune:

News allegations of corruption within the United Nations have surfaced in a confidential audit report that claims the 2003 election of the current chief of the U.N. weather agency was manipulated.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press on Friday, centered around payments to government delegates at the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization, which coordinates the study of the world’s weather and climate.

WMO hired Maria Veiga of Portugal, an independent auditor who wrote the report, in 2003 to investigate the financial irregularities, but fired her three years later for what it described as "serious misconduct."

The auditor, however, said she was blocked from pursuing her investigation, received intimidating phone calls and was threatened with legal action by one WMO official before being dismissed.

In a 65-page summary of her findings, Veiga said that Muhammad Hassan of Sudan, a former WMO staffer, skimmed some US$3 million from the agency while he was working in its training department.

But according to the documents seen by the AP, most of the funds were allegedly used to influence the votes of about 50 WMO member states during the May 2003 election of the agency’s new secretary-general.

The misappropriated funds were "used to pay travel, accommodation and pocket money of … delegates of certain countries with WMO (on the understanding) that the delegates would then vote and act according to Mr. Hassan’s and other WMO staff members’ … instructions," the report states.

Hassan’s current whereabouts are unknown to Swiss authorities, and the AP was unable to contact him. But Marc Tappolet, the investigating magistrate of Geneva canton, told the AP that the Swiss inquiry against Hassan is continuing.

And of course anyone involved is denying anything to do with wrong doings:

WMO spokeswoman Carine Richard-van Maele said Veiga’s allegations were "completely unfounded and defamatory." She added that the agency hoped the Swiss investigation would answer all questions in the case.

"WMO is convinced that the principle motive for the misappropriation of its funds was personal enrichment," Richard-van Maele said. "At no time did Mr. Jarraud have knowledge of fraudulent use of WMO funds. As soon as the fraud was discovered, Mr. Jarraud initiated action, as his top priority, to strengthen internal controls and procedures."

Veiga’s report also mentions a dozen other high-level WMO staffers who were allegedly involved.

Her lawyer, Edward Flaherty, said the Swiss investigation into senior officials was blocked when Jarraud "refused to lift the immunity of the other persons of interest in the investigation."

The lifting of diplomatic immunity, which has so far occurred only in Hassan’s case, is a precondition for a criminal investigation by national authorities against U.N. staff members.

There is also a video on this matter at Fox News here. Just another day at the "USELESS NATION."

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8 Comments:

Blogger RoxieAmerica said...

The United Nations needs a complete re-working it appears. It is a shame isn't it?

4:35 PM  
Blogger Oscar said...

Dear Madam / Sir,

Related to all your articles, having as subject “CORRUPTION in UNITED NATIONS”, I would like to ask you for a service. Maybe in this way we will change the believing that “…the only folks who care about extensively documented allegations of corruption in UN are a handful of U.S. congressmen, the Feds and maybe a couple of journalists … “.

I am a former UN Staff Member. I worked for the UN Department of Peace Keeping Operations (UN DPKO). First in Kosovo (UNMIK) from 2000 to 2001, and then in Congo (MONUC) from 2001 to 2002. I was the Chief, EDP Section (today, Information Technologies). Because of my position, I was very well involved with IT equipment requisitions, biddings analysis, procurement, deliveries, … etc. activities. Mainly to the ones dealing with the Indian companies (Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd - TCIL, Thunderbird Industries LLC, … etc.). Most of these “activities” were very well connected to the "irregular" provisions of contractual staff, as well as to US$ millions in “missing” equipment (computers, radio-communication, tele-communication, … etc.), in both UN Missions.

In 2000, after a duty mission to Brindisi (the UN DPKO Logistic Base), I realized many wrong “things”. I investigated them further, and I found many, many, wrong doings. I wrote related reports, and I tried – for all ways – to call the attention of my supervisors, about so many, so many, cases of corruption, in two of the UN DPKO Sections: “EDP” and “Communications” (today, both are merged: “CIT”, Communications and Information Technology Section), without success. Moreover, I meet, twice, the “UN Corruption Watchdogs” (UN OIOS), Mr. Dileep NAIR in Prishtina, Kosovo and Ms. Esther STERN in Kinshasa, Congo. I fully brief them; providing substantial and extensive documentation, about many different cases, but … nothing happened …It is true that “incompetence” and “arrangements” are very common in some organizations of the UN System.

In the Congo Mission, only for one-year budget, 2001-2002, I discover that US$ 8 Million in IT equipment was “missing”. The “funny” issue is that all this equipment appeared in different UN DPKO documents as … already "delivered" (?!?) Following many complains, I succeeded to “recover” US$ 3 Million, but for the other US$ 5 Million … “nobody knows where they are …” It was investigating about this "missing" equipment, that I discovered a very, very “funny” … and, completely uncontrolled system !... called “inter-mission equipment movements”. Most of the equipment is “missing”; in these “transfers” … Another “funny” method, consists in keeping, new and very expensive equipment, in the warehouses. Following UN DPKO "rules", all equipment, after two years in the warehouse, "must" be declared ... "obsolete". Afterwards, most of this expensive equipment “disappeared” and again: … “nobody knows where they are …”. When you realize that only one satellite dish (of 120, bought only with the MONUC 2001-2002 budget) costs ~US$ 150,000 Dollars !

Other examples: Galaxy, the UN Recruitment System, was developed "in-house", with funds and resources coming from UNMIK. Galileo, the UN Disaster Recovery System, was also developed "in-house", with funds and resources coming from MONUC. When you realize that all these important amount of money, was allocated by the international community to help these Countries to recover from years of war, instead of being dedicated to create more “white elephants”. It should be also mentioned that these "in-house" developments cost to UN, 10 times or more, of the price of similar, standard and "ready-to-use" systems, very common on the market.

Only In 2005, UN Procurement handled almost US $2 Billion in purchasing for the UN DPKO. A related UN OIOS Report revealed that nearly one-third of UN Procurement contracts examined, involved "waste, corruption or other irregularities", having many contracts "some types of wrongdoing". In other(s) similar cases, the VOLCKER Commission concluded that UN allowed "illicit, unethical and corrupt behaviour" to overwhelm the US$ 64 Billion Oil-for-Food Program.

I would like to help -- as much as possible – all related actions, to avoid – as much as possible – more corruption in UN. This is the main purpose of this message to you.

By now, current corruption, money-laundering conspiracy, fraud and ill-gotten bribes cases -- involving hundred of millions of US Dollars – are already scheduled in the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, against Sanjaya BAHEL (former Chief, UN Procurement Division), Nishan KOHLI (Indian businessman -- TCIL, Thunderbird, ... etc.), Alexander YAKOVLEV (former UN Procurement Division) and Vladimir KUZNETSOV (former ACABQ - UN Budget).

Could you please, be so kind, and help me to get in contact with Mr. Michael GARCIA, US Attorney, or with Mr. Jacob BUCHDAHL, US Assistant Attorney, or with Ms. Denise L. COTE, US District Judge, in the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York ? I am really committed to help them to find the truth.

If the Members of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Chairman Mr. Tom LANTOS and Ranking Member Ms. Ileana ROS-LEHTINEN, think it is still worth asking that justice could be done in these cases, I will be also fully available.

Thanks indeed of your kind help on this.

Kind Regards,

Oscar.

PS. In case you need more related information or documentation please, let me know.

Mr. Oscar FIESTAS-TEJADA
Strasbourg, France
ofiestas@netscape.net


PS. This is an extract of a related book, written by a former UN Auditor, to be published very soon:


A case in point was Oscar, the Chief of Electronic Data Processing in the Congo when I was there. Oscar was professional, efficient, and knowledgeable. When he showed me data he had amassed demonstrating that he was missing nearly $4.8 million in assets procured by Headquarters under his budget, he had everything carefully documented.

That many assets missing from a budget that was in total somewhere between $20 and $30 million was a loss rate of almost 20 percent. I forwarded the results to Headquarters for follow-up. I never heard back …

“Edwin, can we meet?”
“Sure,” I said, “What’s up?”
“I have something to show you.”

This was Oscar, the chief of EDP in MONUC, the Congo. My auditors and I were auditing EDP and telecommunications assets. Oscar impressed me early on when after drafting a questionnaire to assess the level of user satisfaction with telecommunications support in the mission, I sent the draft to a few high-tech types for comment before finalizing it. Oscar was one of them. He took time to redo the questionnaire in a manner that improved its usefulness for the purpose intended. It was clear to me that I was dealing with someone very knowledgeable about the subject. He was clearly a professional and stood head and shoulders above the other people I had come to value in that position.

The meeting took place that same day in my office.

“What do you have?” I asked.
“Just this,” Oscar said handing me a spreadsheet analysis of assets under his control. It showed that he was missing nearly $4.8 million in assets procured by Headquarters under his budget.
“Oscar,” I said, “can you walk me through the methodology you used?” Oscar explained that he took all the requisitions against his budget that became purchase orders. He then used those purchase orders to track down all the assets he should have received, and the result was that missing $4.8 million. That many assets missing from a budget somewhere between $20 and $30 million was a loss rate of almost 20 percent. I forwarded the results to Headquarters for follow-up; I never heard back.

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