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UN Censorship Alliance Cocktails with Equatorial Guinea Not A Word on Corruption of SG Guterres

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR PFT CEFC Video

UNITED NATIONS GATE, February 7 – How lawless is the United Nations of Secretary General Antonio Guterres? In the midst of Inner City Press' questioning in 2018 about Guterres' links to now convicted UN bribery Patrick Ho's China Energy Fund Committee, which paid former President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa and had a contract with PGA Vuk Jeremic, and Guterres' failures on Cameroon and elsewhere, his UN Security twice roughed up Inner City Press on June 22 and July 3, 2018, see below.

 Now tellingly on February 7 the UN's partner in censorship started a meeting ignoring a Security Council meeting, only to share drinks later with Equatorial Guinea, which has had the same president for 40 years. The group, formally the UN Correspondent Association but become the UN Censorship Alliance, has not pushed for disclosures by Guterres or any end to censorship, quite the contrary. Several disgusted members - the UN pushes people to join - forwarded Inner City Press this: " Dear colleagues,  This is a reminder that the annual UNCA general membership meeting will take place TODAY, Thursday, February 7th at 3:30 pm in the UNCA room.  The agenda is as follows: 1) Introduction of the new 2019 UNCA Executive Committee 2) Presentation of UNCA subcommittees and their upcoming agendas 3) Presentation of 2018 UNCA and UNCA Awards financials 4) Other matters  Following the meeting, and to kick off the new year, UNCA will host an informal meet and greet reception with the elected 5 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council at 5:30 pm in the Express Bar (Third Floor Conference Building).  The occasion is to facilitate interactions between diplomats and the press corps with the hopes of building good working relationships moving forward.  Drinks and food will be served.  I look forward to seeing you there.   Valeria Robecco President, United Nations Correspondents Association." Note that this drink fest is with Equatorial Guinea. We'll have more on this - and this:

  On January 15, current PGA María Fernanda Espinosa Garces gave a speech in the UN that Inner City Press, now banned for 208 days and counting, was not permitted to attend to cover. Nor did the UN app and "Audio Now" ostensibly offered by Guterres' USG Alison Smale work. Despite these hindrances and censorship, which has been appealed, it emerged that Espinosa Garces is convening a 4 February 2019 meeting with so-far unspecified former PGAs. One wondered, would Sam Kutesa who was shown in the recent Patrick Ho UN bribery trial to have taken $500,000 from CEFC, be one of them? Would Vuk Jeremic who met with worked for CEFC China Energy's Ye Jianming, who also met PGA - and now Guterres official - Peter Thomson? (We are not listing the evidence on CEFC - John Ashe, who was killed it is said by a weight dropping onto his neck while working out alone awaiting trial). How can Inner City Press, which actually covers these issues in a UN which claims to respect the right of anti-corruption journalists, be banned from covering UNGA? We said we'd have more on this - and now we do. While Espinosa and her spokesperson and team hold briefing with few to no questions, this has been announced and sent to Inner City Press by an insider disgusted at the censorship: "UNCA is pleased to invite you to an on-the-record Q&A session co-hosted by the Office of the President of the General Assembly, with past and present Presidents of the UN General Assembly taking place on Monday, February 4th at 6:00 pm in the Express Bar (Third Floor- Conference Building).  Following the discussion at 7:00 pm there will be a reception with drinks and canapes.  Please see below for more information.  The event is open to all UN correspondents.   Valeria Robecco President, United Nations Correspondents Association   ‘Strengthening Multilateralism and the United Nations’   On-the-record Question and Answer Session with Past and Present Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly   Express Bar, 3rd Floor, UN Headquarters 4th February 6:00pm to 8:00pm   Cocktails & Canapes at 7:00pm     Introductory remarks by Ms. Valeria Robecco, President of UNCA Remarks by H.E. Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly  Participants: H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd session of the General Assembly H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the 71st session of the General Assembly H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the 70th session of the General Assembly H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremić, President of the 67th session of the General Assembly H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the 66th session of the General Assembly H.E. Mr. Joseph Deiss, President of the 65th session of the General Assembly H.E. Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, President of the 61st session of the General Assembly H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, President of the 60th session of the General Assembly & former UN Deputy Secretary-General."

 Guterres' Under Secretary General Alison Smale on 17 August 2018 issued a letter "withdrawing" Inner City Press' UN media accreditation. Smale was asked how Inner City Press could appeal, including by UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression David Kaye, but did not answer that. 

On 3 September 2018, facing the prospect of being unable to enter the UN to cover your General Assembly "high level" week for the first time in a decade, Inner City Press submitted an application for accreditation. But there was no action on it - in fact, during high level week, it emerged that Inner City Press had been put on a non-public "barred" list such that even if invited by a member state or UN agency, it could not enter the building. 

Patrick Ho of CEFC was convicted on 5 December 2018. Inner City Press again exclusively reported that Guterres had failed to include his paid position on the board of the Gulbenkian Foundation in his Public Financial Disclosure covering 2016 - and that Gulbenkian in 2018 was trying to sell its Partex Oil and Gas affiliate to CEFC as Guterres refused to audit CEFC and had Inner City Press which asked roughed up and banned. 

On 2 January 2019 Smale's Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit has issued a denial of Inner City Press' September application for accreditation, stating only that  "Greetings Matthew LEE from ICP     INNER CITY PRESS,   

Your media accreditation request, with reference no: M72295425, has been declined for the following reason: Accreditation was withdrawn on 17 August 2018."    

While Guterres was refusing throughout 2018 to begin any UN audit into China Energy Fund Committee, implicated in the UN bribery prosecution US v Patrick Ho, Guterres had a secret: his role on the board of Gulbenkian Foundation which was trying to sell its Partex Oil affiliate to CEFC. See Inner City Press' first exclusive report here.

  Inner City Press continues its exclusive series on some of the CEFC connections in and through the UN that should have been identified in the audit that Guterres corruptly refused to begin, with his conflict of interest. (Even his predecessor Ban Ki-moon ordered an audit after Ng Lap Seng was indicted - Guterres still hasn't after Patrick Ho was convicted.)

   It's time to consider the Guterres-like hypocrisy of Gulbenkian, publicly tying itself to the "blue ocean economy" while taking money from the oil company Partex they tried to sell to CEFC which Guterres has covered up for. Antonio Guterres was a paid board member of Gulbenkian; his wife Catarina Vaz Pinto was paid by them as well. Antonio Guterres' daughter Mariana Guterres actively promotes Gulbenkian (as well as, troublingly, dead children in Kenya); his daughter in law Vanda Onnesjo Lobo gushes about its causes.

  In fact, Gulbenkian which tried to sell its Partex Oil to CEFC in 2018 partners with "Oceano Azul Foundation" - which just happens to have in 2018 hired Antonio Guterres' daughter in law Vanda Lobo, see here. Given Gunbenkian's business dealings with UN briber CEFC, shouldn't this all have been disclosed? Isn't it an abuse that Antonio Guterres would have the only media asking about it roughed up and banned? This is UN corruption.

  One of the people identified in the Ban Ki-moon audit of Ng Lap Seng and South South News was Ion Botnaru. He was allowed to retire, after changing a UN General Assembly document along with then President of the General Assembly John Ashe, who died under indictment ostensibly crushed by his own barbell, to benefit Ng's Sun Kian Ip group. Botnaru reappears again with CEFC, here. And, crying out for audit, the President of the General Assembly who swore in Guterres, Peter Thomson of Fiji, traveled like Ashe and Vuk Jeremic and Sam Kutesa to meet CEFC's Ye Jianming in Hong Kong. (An adviser to Ban Ki-moon is now with the PGA's Office - this is one of the reasons it is so difficult for the UN to make a break from its past and compounding errors. But those in charge now are entirely responsible.)

  Inner City Press has asked Guterres and his spokespeople, among many other questions, "Beyond the 37 questions from Inner City Press you refused to answer last week, still set forth below for promised answer, this is a request, given that Peter Thomson is the SG's rep on Oceans that you describe in detail Thomson's 2017 meeting with now disappeared Ye Jianming of CEFC, name which UN DSS officials were with him and what reports they filed, what their duties were; what was seen by those accompanying Thomson, at least two of whom are still in the UN (one is with China)."

  Typically, Guterres and his spokespeople did not answer. So here, pending listing those from UN Department of Safety and Security the group which roughs up the Press without accountability and maintains a retaliatory "lifetime" banned from the UN list, are the names: "During his two-day visit, the President of the UN General Assembly was accompanied by his senior advisors Abdelghani Merabet, and Zhang Yi, as well as by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs’s Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, Zhu Juwang." Now, Thomson staffer or embed Zhang Yi has gone (back, or more openly) to working for the Chinese government: "On August 14 [2018], Deputy Director-General of China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges Zhang Yi was invited to attend the FOCAC - Africa-China Poverty Reduction and Development Conference, an important sub-forum under the FOCAC hosted by the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development and co-organized by the International Poverty Reduction Center in China and the China Belt and Road Institute for Agricultural Cooperation of China Agriculture University. Attending were more than 300 participants including government officials, international organizations’ representatives, non-governmental organizations’ officials, business leaders, experts and scholars from China, United States, Japan, Denmark and 40 African countries like Angola, Botswana and Mauritius."

  What did they see during Thomson's meeting with now-known briber Ye Jianming? Zhu Juwang  is still with UN DESA; Abdelghani Merabet  is with the current PGA. We'll have more on this: the UN should be answering these questions, now.

  In 2017, the year in which CEFC's Patrick Ho was indicted and arrested for UN bribery, CEFC in the UN engaged at least twice with Lenni Montiel, including for example on 6 July 2017, and also with DESA official Pingfan Hong. Some photos here. Inner City Press before Guterres had it roughed up and banned now 176 days for its inquiries into Guterres' corruption has politely questioned both Montiel and Hong - but Guterres has made that impossible and his Spokesmen refused to answer any written questions, for more than a week now. There are more connections.

  Guterres got favors from Peter Thomson when Thomson was President of the General Assembly. Rudimentary open source research - including on the UN's own website here - finds that Thomson, like implicated Sam Kutesa and John Ashe and Vuk Jeremic, visited CEFC's Ye Jianming in Hong Kong. What was discussed? Inner City Press previously covered, critically but civilly, Thomson. Now corrupt Guterres has had Inner City Press roughed up and banned 175 days, with his Spokesman Stephane Dujarric refusing to answer any questions despite the promise of Guterres' USG Alison Smale.

   After receiving favors from Thomson as PGA, Guterres gave him a job in his Secretariat, Representative on Oceans. Here is Patrick Ho, interviewed by Guterres' DESA, on Oceans. There should have been an audit. There still should be. Another of Guterres' special advisers, Jeffrey Sachs, after denying Inner City Press' documented report Sachs was on a UN - CEFC board, abruptly closed his Twitter account, story here. Guterres goes on robo-tweeting from parts unknown, spending public money undisclosed. Guterres should explain and / or resign.  We will have more in this series.

   A now-removed Gulbenkian Foundation web page says Guterres continued as a board member into 2018. Archived here. In fact it was on 9 February 2018 that Gulbenian tweeted that Guterres was no longer on the board - AFTER it was reported that Gulbenian was trying to sell, or even had already sold, Partex to CEFC. This is called guilty knowledge.

 While Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric is refusing to answer Inner City Press' written questions, contrary to promises by Guterres' Global Communicator Alison Smale, it appears Guterres' evasive defense is claiming that he left Gulbenkian in November 2016 and therefore somehow had no conflict of interest in refusing and blocking the obviously needed UN audit of CEFC after the arrest of its Patrick Ho for UN bribery. This defense is dubious.

  Why did Gulbenkian take down its webpage disclosing that Guterres remained on board into 2018? Why - sixteen months after Guterres ostensibly left - did they wait until February 2018 to tweet that he left? Because their negotiations with CEFC became public (see 2 February 2018 Bloomberg here, and 6 February MacauHub here: "CEFC China Energy buys Portugal’s Partex Oil & Gas.")

  In any event, Guterres' "2017" Financial Disclosure, which explicitly says it covered the year 2016 in which even in this new story he remained on Gulbenkian's board into November, more than 80% of the year - did not disclose his role in Gulbenkian, only on the Club of Madrid. Guterres has had previous financial disclosure omissions, for example in Portugal, here. CEFC was hardly unknown: it bought a Portuguese insurance company in November 2017, here.

    Guterres' failure to disclose and, separately and even more so, his refusal to audit CEFC in the UN was a direct conflict of interest, which he has tried to cover up by roughing up and banning Inner City Press which asked him about it. (See January 2018 press conference here, July 2018 roughing up by Guterres' UN Security here, banning letter via Press Freedom Tracker here.)


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