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Host Country Bank "Runaround" Draw Syria, G77 Complaint, Ban(k) of America?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 24 -- Syria's Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar Ja'afari on Thursday told Inner City Press exclusively that after the US told his government, which had its New York bank account shut down, to move its money south to Washington First Bank, that too got shut down.

  The US as Host Country to the United Nations has a legal duty to ensure that all member states can have bank accounts, as Inner City Press reported based on the last closed door meeting of the UN's Host County Committee.

  But when the US representative in the Budget Committee on Thursday -- not its Ambassador for Management -- responded to the comments of Algeria from the Group of 77, Syria, Singapore and others about this account "runaround," there was no mention of the bank issue.

   Rather the argument was that while the US is technically behind on its payments to the UN, this is due to conflicting fiscal calendars and "other issues."

  There was criticism of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's administration for not making sure that the Host Country Agreement is complied with. His Controller responded that she had gotten "good news, only last night."

   She told countries to expect this news in two weeks, then when speaking of a country barred from voting at the UN because it does not have a bank account to pay its dues from, said it might be more than a month.

After the Budget Committee session, Inner City Press observed Ambassador Ja'afari seeking to speak with the new chief of Ban's Department of Management, former Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu (whose appointment Inner City Press exclusively reported well in advance of its formal announcement.)

"The money is there," Ja'afari said as Takasu appeared to back away. Takasu conferred openly with a Japanese diplomat just outside the Committee door; it is too early in his tenure to know how common this will be.

Meanwhile Ban Ki-moon has put the chairman of Bank of America on his high level group on sustainable energy -- despite Bank of America being protested by Occupy Wall Street and others for being the number one funder of mountain top removal coal mining. Why can't Ban or his self-funded bridge to the corporate world Bob Orr get their bank friends to let UN member states open accounts?

Footnote: An hour later, twenty blocks north at the Council on Foreign Relations, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York William Dudley was scheduled to give a speech and take questions.

  Inner City Press went, but from the overflow run to which the media was confined was not able to ask any questions, whether about bank accounts for UN member states or why it is appropriate for JPMorgan Chase CEO to be on the Federal Reserve Bank of NY board of directors, given that the FRBNY directly regulated JPMC, which has recently gambled and lost $3 billion and counting?

This last question, Inner City Press submitted twice by email, but it was not posed. Then this arrived from CFR's press officer, subject of interim appreciation:

"Sincere apologies that you were unable to ask this question . I tried to reserve a space for you in the room, unfortunately we were at capacity. I will pass this question along to President Dudley’s media coordinator to see if he will respond to your question."

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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