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Inner City Press Podcast --

On UNDP North Korea Audit, ACABQ Chairman Has No Paper, While Spokesperson Says It Is Finished

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, May 9 --  "I have no paper" concerning the UN's North Korea audit, the chairman of the UN's Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions told Inner City Press on Wednesday morning. 

   The 90-day "urgent audit" Ban Ki-moon called for 110 days ago has suddenly gone missing: spokesperson Michele Montas said Wednesday that the audit is finished, but could not explain why it had not yet been given to ACABQ Chairman Rajat Saha.

            Inner City Press is told that the audit of the UN Development Program's North Korea operations is a white-wash, both in substance and in structure, that on issues such of the high placement in UNDP's country office of locals referred by Kim Jong Il's government and counterfeit U.S. currency held for years by UNDP, the audit says these are beyond its "terms of reference."

            After Inner City Press asked about this flaws, Ms. Montas said, "You're seen it, I haven't." Wednesday morning's Wall Street Journal carries a letter to the editor over Ms. Montas' signature, stating that

"the audit is proceeding and is being conducted by independent external auditors who report directly to the General Assembly and not to the secretary-general. In addition, the external auditors have said they expect to deliver a report to the General Assembly later this month, well within the 90 days of the actual start of their work on March 19, 2007."

            So when this letter was submitted, the audit was "proceeding," and on Wednesday it could be said to be "finished." Stranger still, well before March 19, Ms. Montas asked Inner City Press' question if the 90 day clock was ticking by saying yes, it is ticking. Now that date has been moved back, with no explanation of the change.

Mr. Ban, Mr. Saha and ACABQ last month

            At Wednesday's noon briefing the question was asked, who had the responsibility for proposing, reviewing and approval the audit's narrow terms-of-reference? Ms. Montas said that the Secretariat was not involved. Chairman Saha said Wednesday morning that ACABQ did not participate in any terms of reference, does not yet have any paper about the audit.

   Mr. Saha encouraged Inner City Press to seek out Chairman Brodeur of the Board of Auditors, who has yet to speak about the audit. Previously, Mr. Goolsaaran, Executive Secretary of the Board of Auditors, told Inner City Press he is not authorized to speak. Waiting outside Conference Room 5 in the UN's basement Wednesday afternoon yielding nothing, at least no Brodeur. There are many questions and few answers, and even with starting time changed, the clock is ticking. Watch this site.

    Again, because a number of Inner City Press' UN sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the UN agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep the information flowing.

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540