UN Evades Satyam Questions, Leaves ICC Loopholes, Uses and
Defends the Past
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, March 3 -- Faced
with the direct question of whether the UN continues to receive
services from the scandal-plagued
firm Satyam, through the UN-affiliated
International Computing Center, UN Associate Spokesperson Farhan
Haq on Tuesday
told Inner City Press to "ask Satyam."
Since the UN, and Mr. Haq, are
funded by taxpayers, and had just purported to issue a blanket denial
continuing services from Satyam, Inner City Press asked if that belated
included any services through the ICC, which has employees who work in
Headquarters building. Of one ICC employee
who went out a high-floor window of
the UN to her death a year ago, Mr. Haq said, "It was a grim
morning for me.
Her family was disturbed [about Press coverage], I heard from
At that time, the UN Spokesperson's Office told Inner City Press that
was affiliated with the UN, but not a part of the UN Secretariat.
Does your denial cover services received from Satyam
through the ICC,
Inner City Press asked. "That is
meant to be a systemwide answer," Haq said. But did you ask the ICC?
he answered. He went on to defend the UN
system's belated and halting disbarment of Satyam, disagreeing that
the UN-affiliated World
Bank didn't tell the rest of the system, saying rather that the
delayed due to "due process." It should be noted that the UN
continued contracting from ostensibly disbarred aviation and
firms, like Corimec.
Inner City Press had posed the question in writing to Angela Kane, the
the UN's Department of Management, which oversees procurement. Ms. Kane
back, on this, to ask the "at the noon briefing... I just cannot
to individual queries in view of the heavy demands on my time." Inner
Press then posed the question, about Satyam services to the UN through
International Computing Center, to the acting head of the
Office, Marie Okabe.
At the noon
briefing on March 3, Inner City Press asked Ms. Okabe, does the UN
computer services through the International Computing Center from
so-called Indian Enron? Ms. Okabe said that while she didn't "have the
guidance" with her, an answer had been sent to Inner City Press earlier
the day. Video here,
from Minute 12:59.
UN's evasions on Satyam: gamble or strategy?
That claim was repeated in a subsequently email:
Subj: your questions at noon
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 3/3/2009 12:44:43 P.M.
Eastern Standard Time
You asked several questions at
noon, one of which (concerning Satyam) was answered in an email sent to
Regarding allegations on
corruption in Cambodia, this continues to be a topic we are pursuing
Cambodian Government. We continued our high-level discussions with the
Cambodian Government on 23 February on all issues related to the ECCC;
Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Peter Taksoe-Jensen
the United Nations. The discussions also focused on the work of the
Sessions, which are working to establish a mechanism to address the
Regarding the reported request
from Bangladesh -- The United Nations has received a request, conveyed
Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, for assistance regarding
into the mutiny last week. That request is being studied.
But check as Inner City Press could, there was no
e-mail response on the
Satyam question received earlier in the day. Inner City Press went and
Ms. Okabe, who referred the question to Farhan Haq. Haq said he sent it
in the morning, then acknowledged it had been sent to a different --
-- email address. He resent the following, which makes no mention of
International Computing Center, the UN-affiliated entity in Inner City
Inner City Press Sent: 3/3/2009 1:28:33 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Fw: Questions on Satyam
by UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply/NY/UNO on 03/03/2009 01:28PM -----
were informed by our Procurement Division that Satyam was suspended in
January. As per Procurement Division
practice, a communication has been sent to the UN procurement system
peacekeeping missions) and the procurement extranet site is now
also have the following information from UNDP about Satyam, received at
most recent contract with Satyam was signed in December 2007 for
work on its information systems. The contract went through the normal
competitive process. This contract was set to expire after one year
30 2008). In October of 2008, media
articles appeared on irregularities in Satyam's work with the World
Bank. UNDP approached the World Bank
proactively to find out the details of the alleged irregularities. As a result of these conversations, UNDP took
a decision not to renew Satyam's contract and began to evaluate the
while minimizing the risks to our information systems.
UNDP currently has 11 Satyam technical
consultants working on its information systems.
does not manage the UN Global Marketplace (UNGM), it is managed by
UNOPS. We are in the process of having the
misleading or erroneous information contained on IAPWG's site removed
unfortunately creates this perception.
UNDP can flag vendors in the UNGM should it
experience problems and is
currently in the process of doing so. It
is worth noting that UNDP's review of the published World Bank list of
vendors did not turn up Satyam's name, in spite of such references in
to Satyam having been debarred.
light of the most recent information regarding Satyam, UNDP, like many
companies and organizations, will not be continuing its business with
is currently looking for a replacement.
But the question to the UN was and is, "Does
International Computing Centre, for any of its work for the UN
services from Satyam?" Inner City Press, in forwarding the question to
Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe after Angela Kane declined to answer
"Marie, please consider the question whether Satyam does business with
the UN system through the International Computing Center a question for
Secretariat's Spokesperson's Office, even for ICT/Mr. Choi."
There followed a response from Farhan Haq that did
not even mention the
International Computing Center, before which he did not ask or even
seek to ask
the ICC for any response. The goal seems to be to make the question go
answering other questions, and to dredge up an incident
in which the UN
to dictate how the press covers death -- the New York Times, it
noted, has displayed freshly killed people face-up on its front page,
a peep from the UN, which went into a frenzy when a New York Times
said the UN pulled security from its sometime-envoy George Clooney --
attempt to discourage or evade basic factual question about the UN
it say. We will have more on this.
Footnote: in fairness,
Haq is said
to be among the more articulate of the UN spokespeople. We note,
he has previously refused even on camera to answer basic questions
currency exchange losses to Myanmar's Than Shwe regime, and about
admitted irregularities with the UN-affiliated tribunal in Cambodia.
for a story byeond today's
about the Cambodia Tribunal and about the
UN Information Center in Tokyo. On that, we're
told by a Tokyo source that last week in the Japanese legislature
in reply to
question of Mr. Nobuto Hosaka of the Social Democratic Party of Japan,
of Foreign Affaiirs, Mr. Nakasone, made the following remarks in
the Japanese government's decision to decrease 10 million yen from its
contribution to UNIC Tokyo:
the advance payments made by UNIC Tokyo in violation of UN financial
government proposed to the UN to quickly take appropriate action
staff members who took part in the
advance payments. (It was the first time the Foreign Minister referred
appropriate action against staff members.)
3) He also expressed regret concerning the 5
million yen time deposit kept at UNIC Tokyo, and said this was conveyed
We'll have more on this, as well.
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