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At UN Pension Fund, Cocheme Coup Includes 43 New Posts and Double the Travel

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

UNITED NATIONS, July 5 -- As $9 billion dollars is about to be outsourced from the UN Pension Fund, its CEO Bernard Cocheme is asking for 43 new hires, and a doubling of his travel budget. He has said that if the Pension Board next week does not give him these increases, and vote to remove what little Secretariat oversight there is of the Pension Fund, he will leave in the next two years. Increasingly, staff and beneficiary say out loud, Maybe that would be for the best.

            As reported, the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services found that under Cocheme, the Pension Fund's information technology contracts were doled out to the ex-boss of Paul Dooley, with the assistance of Sanjaya Bahel and Dulcie Bull. Mr. Bahel has since been indicted and convicted. Meanwhile Cocheme imposed no discipline on either Mr. Dooley or Ms. Bull, and now seeks to update Ms. Bull's status from D-1 to D-2.

            Recently, the proposed staffing of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations was cut. Meanwhile in Cocheme's "Budget estimate for the biennium 2008-2009," he proposes five post upgrades (Ms. Bull's is only one) and fully 43 new posts. While some insiders call this just an opening bid -- "he asks for 43, the Board says 25 and ACABQ whittles it down to 15," one predicts -- it is still noteworthy, or at one observer put it, nauseating. He predicts that if Cocheme gets these post upgrades, the next step would be to shift two underlings to Assistant Secretary General, and claim Under Secretary General status for himself. Power corrupts, and near-absolute power corrupts near absolutely.

Warren Sach, Controller - but not of Pension Fund / Cocheme?

            Cocheme's travel budgets are proposed to be doubled, in his new budget. Under "Administrative costs," $429,000 in 2006-07 becomes $799,000 in 2008-09. Under investment costs, the leap is from $563,000 in 2004-05 to $2,187,000 in 2008-09.

            Speaking of travel, Cocheme's allies have written to Ban Ki-moon complaining about his Controller Warren Sach's July 2-6 trip to Europe. Vladimir Yossifov of the WIPO Staff Pension Committee expressed in a June 29 letter to Mr. Ban "disappointment and concern at the timing of this initiative," saying it should have taken place, if at all, at least four weeks before the Pension Board meeting, which starts on July 9. It should be noted that the budget for Cocheme's coup, 116 pages in all, is only dated June 22. Who on the Pension Board dares question Cocheme's coup? We'll see.

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

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