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Corruption Allegation in UN in Beirut, IIIC and ESCWA, Not Addressed by Ban Ki-moon, Shrouded in Turin

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

UNITED NATIONS, August 28 -- Ban Ki-moon ran for Secretary-General on a platform of reform, saying he would be transparent and clean up the United Nations. Nine months in, transparency is sorely lacking, and reform is hard to find. Most recently, Ban's own Ethics Office chief Robert Benson asked him to allow the continuation of an investigation of retaliation by the UN Development Program, "for the good the UN," but Ban decided to allow UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis to select his own investigator, click here for that, here for video and here for Benson's memo, publicized first by Inner City Press.

            Four weeks ago, a detailed complaint of corruption and nepotism was sent to three top Ban advisors, including Kim Won-soo. It had initially be sent to Inner City Press, which had previously covered issues in the UN Economic and Social Council for Western Asia; then the complainant sent copies to the three Ban aides -- none of whom have responded or acted on the complaint. On Ban's August 28 press conference, despite taking a staged question about his work on behalf of the South Korean hostages in Afghanistan, the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General (OSSG) did not allow any follow-up questions to Ban on ethics. Here are issues, at both ESCWA and the UN International Independent Investigation Commission, also based in Beirut:

Subject: ESCWA
From: [Name withheld in light of possible retaliation and
lack of Ethics Office protections]
To: Inner City Press
CC: kimw [at], beagle [at] etc.
Date: 8/3/2007 8:55:11 AM Eastern Standard Time

Again, ESCWA and Tallawy. Thank you for [publishing] the material sent before, she was not extended. Though this mail might sound a bit late it should be published for the new-coming Executive Secretary Mr. Al-Dafaa to read and understand what is he getting into. Nevertheless the story continued, here is the latest from a number of staff in ESCWA:

Mervat Tallawy and Atif Kubursi (the current Acting Executive Secretary whom Tallawy chose to appoint as she left ESCWA) share two things in common:

-The same management style and abuse of authority

-A Harvard affiliated institute they are jointly (partnership) establishing at Cairo, big business in developing World. Not content with leaving ESCWA so soon, Tallawy chose to appoint a close friend of hers (and a business partner), Atif Kubursi as Deputy Executive Secretary to maintain her close grip on ESCWA and to return favors to people. The management style of Kubursi is very similar to that of Ms. Tallawy, if not worse. Having himself never been a manager (he is a professor of Economics at McMaster University in Canada), his idea of managing can be summarized as follows:

-He intimidated an information assistant and threatened to fire her from ESCWA within 12 hours if she does not fill the ESCWA website with his pictures and remove all other pictures of staff!

-He apparently instructed Chiefs of Divisions and staff members to walk behind him when proceeding to meetings as he is the boss!

-He is filling the place with his relatives and current and former students at McMaster University... He leaves everyday the office for 4 hours for lunch break! He religiously makes a weekly phone call to Tallawy to take instructions from her!

...Finally, to ensure that he controls everything, Mr. Kubursi is the only person at ESCWA who reads the official mail. All other staff are briefed verbally. It does not matter because Mr. Kubursi's motto is "I am the Executive Secretary, everything should come to me and only me. You are subordinates!"

One of the latest achievements is about Tallawy's ex-"private driver" in NY, who she placed as Special Assistant to her countryman, USG in charge of GA, Security Council Affairs and Conference Services. The gentleman cannot be promoted in New York, so Kubrusi is promoting him in ESCWA against a post he is not even qualified for!

The biggest question to be asked to both Tallawy and Kubrusi is who is Mr. Pak!? He came to ESCWA before Tallawy's departure under the pretext of doing a study for the UN, later on from one of his faxes to Tallawy it transpired he was preparing ground for the Tallawy/Kubrusi venture in Cairo but paid by ESCWA. How nice... Same style, same management and the saga continues… and the New York is aware, OIOS, OHRM, SG's Office, The Ombudsman and no reaction...  We think this is interesting reading for your site! Keep on unveiling the nepotism in the UN! ESCWA Staff

            The "new era" created when Ban failed to back up his own Ethics Office chief's request to act "for the good of the UN" has created a situation in which UN system staff who see corruption apparently have no confidence that they would be protected from retaliation.

Demonstrating at ESCWA, UNIIIC not shown

   On the ESCWA  theme above -- nepotism -- and in light of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission having a locked website, no visible spokesperson except for the OSSG, which refuses to allow ethics related questions to be put to Ban, consider that a detailed complaint from Beirut alleges, among other things, that at the UNIIIC

Actions by the Chief of Staff include

-the use of official vehicles and drivers to collect family members and friends of the Chief of State from the airport, without payment of drivers and vehicle costs.

-the selected authorization of the payment of overtime to drivers so that the CoS can be driver for personal use

-Use of official vehicles and drivers, paid overtime, to drive the CoS's family members on tours of Lebanon, without reimbursement of vehicle costs and drivers time.

-Failure to have insurance waivers signed for non-UN personnel to use official vehicles.

-significant time taken off work, without leave, when family members were in the mission area. Allegedly, the Commissioner indicated that he was aware of this.

-CoS allegedly used his position with a commercial hotel to obtain a special rate for his family, that is not available to other staff or their families.

-CoS allegedly did not submit MOP forms for external stays like other staff are required to.

-Failure to adhere to UN security restrictions -- for example, CoS allegedly traveled in contravention of 20 km radius rules without prior authority.

-Mismanagement of money: failed to consult on office plans which resulted in a disastrous floor plan, for which more money had to be spent to partially correct. Allegedly, the Commissioner was aware of, but did nothing about, this.

-CoS has a staff member involuntarily removed, despite the staff member's objections so that he could replace this person allegedly "with a woman that he was having an affair with," according to the IIIC source, who adds that Commissioner is aware of this but has done nothing about it, and says that Brammertz allows leaks when the leaker is one of his friends. It is also alleged that the Chief Investigator is hiring her friends and former workers at the ICTY, and concerned staff are silenced and intimidated.

  This is becoming a trend in Ban's UN, click here for today's story about the sell-out of the UN Ethics Office and its promise of protection against retaliation. Watch this site.

* * *

Clck here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (which had to be finalized without Ban's DPA having responded.)  Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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