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In Corrupt UN Of Guterres, UNDP of Steiner Seeks More Public Funds To Hunt Whistleblowers

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR Letter PFTracker  Q&A

UNITED NATIONS GATE, July 3 – The corruption in the UN system under UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres ranges from impunity for sexual abuse and harassment to lack of financial disclosures and audits to outright double-dipping of benefits, whistleblower UN staff have repeatedly complained to Inner City Press. Two months later, one of the double dipper was rewarded with a promotion to UN Resident Coordinator in the United Arab Emirates, see Achim Steiner's announcement below. After that there was a meeting in which Guterres' senior official berated staff for leaking to Inner City Press (called "Innercity Press" in the minutes), and bragged that there would be no accountability for the double dippers.

Now this, on UNDP's "oversight" board meeting: "The United Nations continues to live up to its reputation of impunity, as the poor state of oversight and accountability was further underscored at the recently concluded annual session of the joint Executive Board of UNDP, UNFPA, and UNOPS. While the objective of the session was to report on the state of oversight and accountability of its offices charged with addressing misconduct, corruption, waste, and fraud, it became clear that in reality, agencies fail to uphold the commitments to their respective mandates choosing instead to act as fixers for corrupt officials, by hunting and retaliating against whistleblowers who report wrongdoing.     As the heads of investigative and ethics offices presented reports on what they highlighted as progress in front of Member State delegations, a common ask from these UN officials to the governments was for more financial resources. Of the main issues they identified was the lack of resources to handle caseloads and respond quickly and appropriately to complaints. However, the truth is, the principle problem area is not so much the lack of resources, but rather the same persistent reality that there is no accountability in the UN, and that the system is maneuvered to turn blame around on whistleblowers who report fraud, waste, corruption, and misconduct committed by those in power.      It is clear that the additional resources will almost certainly not contribute towards improving those broken mechanisms. The heads of investigative and ethics offices purposely conceal from Member States how they actually used global tax payers' money for maintaining their ineffective and failed accountability structures. Those funds mainly cover their highly lucrative, tax-exempt positions in New York. In reality, the heads of investigative and ethics offices often collude with corrupt officials to cover up and undermine the investigation process, and arbitrarily determine the outcome of the process for their mutual benefit. On the public’s dime.     The mechanisms inside the UN system are there for show only-mainly to demonstrate to Member States and taxpayers that it exists. But the investigations are a faux process whereby whistleblowers are gaslighted. Subsequent explanations to anyone questioning the process is a no brainer: claims are made that standard procedure was followed. This is made possible by having the misconduct or fraud mysteriously cleared despite no shortage of evidence. The entire process is concealed, the investigation outcome is adjudicated internally and to those asking for transparency, the good old confidentiality policy is cited. Consequently, crooks continue to be protected, and often even rewarded with promotions thus continuing the vicious cycle of corruption. On the other hand, whistleblowers are penalized, threatened and intimidated into silence and basically left to pick up the pieces - whether it’s retaliation, dismissal, contract non renewal, blacklisting-the consequences are limitless.      During the Executive Board meeting, Peter Liria, director of UNDP Ethics Office highlighted two particular cases of whistleblowers requesting protection through prima facie. Noting the voluminous evidence presented in one of those cases, he argued that it was nevertheless insufficient to substantiate the prima facie. As usual at UNDP, no amount of evidence is ever considered sufficient for a prima facie substantiation. The low substantiation rates are backed by the last Joint Inspection Unit report, which pointed to this very problem: The substantiation rates in UN investigations remain abysmally low. And this is by design. The burden of proof is on the whistleblowers who are often outmaneuvered by the organization’s lawyers, including Peter Liria himself. The system protects the interests of officials and favorites of these officials to sustain comfortable positions and kickbacks and anyone sounding the alarm is perceived as a threat to be dealt with, using the very rules that are ostensibly in place to protect in such scenarios. Peter Liria is known in UNDP as the toothless director in charge of ethics, often the butt of the jokes since he actually works against upholding any ethical standards often driving complainants away or preventing them from filing complaints. On his social media, Peter Liria posts about the merits of ethical organizations, but behind closed doors, he admitted to complainants that the mandate and process of his own Ethics Office was flawed and useless. “Our hands are tied,” is a phrase Peter Liria likes to use when justifying denying whistleblowers the protection.     His counterpart at UNDP’s Office for Audit and Investigations, Helge Osttveiten, is not any better. Despite colluding in the cover up of a well publicized scandal involving the bribery case of Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng and the former UNGA president John Ashe, Helge Osttveiten continues to whitewash deficiencies in the office he runs. His statement at the board was an empty recitation of statistics against a context which misses the point  about the purpose of the investigative mechanism. In one of many cases which Helge Osttveiten chose to discard into the black pit of dismissed complaints, involved the misconduct of a senior staff member threatening and retaliating against a subordinate who witnessed an intimate moment between this senior staff and a fellow subordinate at the workplace.       And as for UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, whose Office of Human Resources hunted and investigated whistleblowers for exposing the double dippers which Inner City Press reported on last year, has called for an increase in number of investigators citing an example of running into problems where the legal department “cannot transact clearance of the investigation because there is not enough staff.” Achim Steiner noted that a remedy would be more lawyers in order to be able to actually review the backlog in cases. But the lawyers are part of the problem: inevitably complainants are outmaneuvered by UNDP lawyers pulling legal stunts on whistleblowers who come in good faith.     Unlike the rest of the United Nations which is funded by assessed contributions, UNDP’s core funds are entirely sourced from Member States’ voluntary contributions. Against this reality, Member States are in a strong position to demand better accountability, oversight and whistleblower protections. Sadly, it appears this is not the case based on the rather weak statements of delegations during this session- member states simply did not offer the robust criticism one expects from those who control the purse strings. And it just seems that such lack of pressure contributes to the culture of impunity. For example, when the U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative Courtney Nemroff in her statement underscored the importance of whistleblowers, Mr. Steiner in response simply praised the work of the internal offices after which he moved on to another topic:  “Just on the US comment on independent evaluation offices, the office of Audit and Investigations and the ethics office, let me take this take this opportunity to thank them before you for their work because they are actually each one in their own right a critical part of being an assurance but also a pointer toward better management of the organization and we have all benefited from that.”     The United Nations was meant to be a beacon of hope. Its actions convey a completely different reality; the organization actively reinforces the same injustices it purports to be an antithesis to. The tired explanation of change takes time in big organizations, is simply unacceptable. When those in charge repeatedly demonstrate intent to continue to break their stated commitments to whistleblower protection, it is clear as day that they are behind this lack of change.     US law requires that recipients of US aid adhere to whistleblower protection standards or risk losing up to 15% of funding. Clearly the time is ripe for such cuts. Money is wasted on an organization which continues to blatantly mislead as to how donor’s funds are used, and which uses these resources to punish staff who bravely sound the alarm on waste and abuse. How many more such executive board meetings will take place, where spineless officials spew lies and omit significant parts of the story about what actually occurs inside the opaque walls of the system? Instead of an exercise in accountability, this last session was as always a demonstration of bureaucratic whitewashing and the shifting of responsibility for pervasive issues. This is the truth about the United Nations global taxpayers deserve to know. 

This is the corrupt UN of Guterres: "CGSM Follow-up Meeting on 30 November 2018  Minutes of the Meeting   Participants:  Mr. David Bearfield, Director OHR  Ms. Henrietta De Beer, Policy Advisor, OHR  Mr. Dimitri Samaras, UNDP, UNFPA, UnWomen and UNOPS Staff Council Chairman  Ms. Fikerte Assefa, Staff Council Vice-Chair  Ms. Amsale Admassu, Staff Council Representative  Ms. Audrey Hyatt, Staff Council Representative   Summary of Minutes  The OHR Director opened the meeting by welcoming the staff council followed by the statement of the Staff Council Chair on the Council Mandate.   Issues discussed:  Staff Entitlements and Benefits  The Staff Council requested update on the issue of Staff entitlements.  The chair recalled the CGSM discussion action plan.                                        _____________________  The Staff Council Chair expressed his concern on inconsistent implementation and administration of rules and regulations.  He reminded that documented in the CGSM minutes acknowledgement that  “5 were found to be not in line with the existing policies” and asked for clarification on how these individuals could be exempted from any sanction.    The Staff Council chair also informed the meeting that a staff member complained that he was asked by OHR team not to raise benefit entitlements issues anymore.  He also offered to get additional benefit entitlement.     _____________________  The Staff Council Vice-Chair expressed concern around the perception of double standards if the organization decided not to initiate recovery from the 18 staff members even if the mistake was  made by organization.   This approach is clearly a double standard since UNDP has a policy to recover any funds paid to a staff member based on administrative error.  Exempting the people concerned under this investigation would create a double standard and may provoke colleague who are subjected to reimbursing UNDP for 2 years’ worth entitlement due to no fault of theirs. The Staff Representative expressed her apprehension on the inconsistent approach as there are situations in other areas of the organization where overpayments are continuously being recovered from staff.  It was also shared that staff interest and questions is piqued around the issue as we are constantly fielding questions from staff interested in the resolution.   The BPPS staff also complained about the Assignment of the OHR Advisor on the BPPS review while there is still unresolved issues related to her receipt of benefits and entitlements.         The Staff Representative requested what is the organization priority: Protecting the organization interest or individuals? This issue is already out unless appropriate action is taken it will continue damaging UNDP’s reputation. UNDP’s funds comes from donors for development activities and it is the organization’s fiscal responsibility to take corrective measure to stop misuse. In this case, word is already out and if no recovery and action is taken then the organization is subject to in-depth donor scrutiny and skepticism in the future?     The Staff Council chair replied that it is hard to agree with the Director statement exonerating the 5 staff members we were told during the CGSM meeting were questionable.  The SC Chair added that since some of these people have in their function as OHR advisors counseled other staff why they are not entitled for additional benefit while they have double nationality while they themselves receiving such benefit.    The Staff Council chair also mentioned the fact that  he have been asked by CNN to provide information but refused any communication with press since the Staff Council believe that the mandate is bringing issues to management and negotiate for resolution.      The OHR Director replied that after receiving the Legal Office and OAI advice he prepared his recommendation for approval by the Administrator.   The Director stated that the problem was caused by the different interpretation of the staff rules and the implementation was not supported by a policy guidance note. He suggested that after in-depth investigation by externals staff were not found to have deliberately defrauded the organization or involved in outright wrong doing.   The following steps will be taken in the coming days:  1.  An email will be sent to the named  individuals based on the circumstances of the individual case.   2.  A circular with a Clear guidelines on the benefits and entitlements will be communicated to all staff.      __________________  The OHR Director reiterated the findings of the investigation and repeated the actions that would be taken                        ___________________  The OHR Director said that it is her interpretation.                          The OHR Director said again that it is his interpretation.  The case will be handled depending on the individual circumstances.         ___________________  The OHR Director said that the damage is already done when staff gave internal information to the Innercity press.  He considers the focus on HR colleagues is a witch hunt.  He also added that they are working to identify these individuals who communicated the valuable information to outside.      The OHR Director insisted that there is no evidence of wrong doing by any of the 18 staff members mentioned in the article.  He also added that this case has been concluded as an organizational administrative error. Furthermore,  he refuses to let anyone targeting his staff." The UN is in decay. Since Guterres had Inner City Press roughed up on and banned since July 3, 2018 it cannot ask about this at the UN noon briefing as it has in the past, back to the time of Kofi Annan. But it has asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who Guterres' Communicator Alison Smale has told UN Special Rapporteur David Kaye would answer - but didn't: "August 27-3: Please state the Secretariat's and DSG / Development System's knowledge of dual citizen staff getting US Tax reimbursement and also Home Leave and Education grant entitlements using their national/original passport - and what is being done about it." No answer at all, 23 hours after the briefing in which Dujarric claimed the ban is for being in a parking lot making some diplomats and UN officials uncomfortable. (Isn't that a journalist's job?) On August 28, Dujarric wrote to Inner City Press regarding the question, "I WILL HAVE A COMMENT LATER ON THIS ISSUE." But now two days later, nothing. Instead, from within UNDP, an all-staff email referencing Inner City Press' story, leaked to Inner City Press: "From: UNDP Bulletin
Sent: Wednesday, August 29, 2018 5:06:13 PM (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
To: All Staff UNDP Global
Subject: Update on Staff Benefits
Dear Colleagues,
You may have seen a press article published this week which alleges that a number of UNDP staff are improperly receiving benefits related to their expatriate status as internationally recruited staff.
Given our duty of care to staff and to the organization, I would like to take this opportunity to inform you regarding the situation.
Firstly, it is important to recognize that UNDP is a rules-based organization. For the benefit of its stakeholders, its staff, and the people it serves, UNDP recognizes it is of the utmost importance that administrative rules are applied consistently and fairly. In recognition of that principle, and as standard procedure, UNDP regularly screens for compliance with administrative rules.
Secondly, as part of that screening, UNDP had already commissioned an independent review by the UN Secretariat’s Office of Human Resources Management to ensure the fair and consistent application of rules related to eligibility for UNDP headquarters staff who are internationally recruited and receive related entitlements and benefits.
Thirdly, I would like to emphasize that there is no evidence nor any suggestion that any member of UNDP staff has acted inappropriately or dishonestly. OHR, on behalf of UNDP, will continue to ensure that rules and procedures are applied properly and correctly, in this, as in all other cases.
With my best regards,
Michele Candotti
Chief of Staff & Director of the Executive Office."
  But as whistleblowers point out, "Of course they have to say that because so many high level staff are also taking home leave benefits they don't have right to. Many of us hope you won't let this story go. You must press Steiner and the high level ppl listed in that chart you posted to respond to your questions and ask the top man at HR David Bearfield to explain how these ppl take home leave when Staff Rule 4.5 (d) says they can't. This is wrong." So is Guterres' outrageous targeting, roughing up and banning of Inner City Press to try to cover up his UN's corruption. And so is this announcement by Achim Steiner, with a double dipper promoted: "Dear Colleagues, It is my pleasure to announce the following UN Resident Coordinator, UNDP Resident Representative appointments:
Ms. Marina Walter has been appointed as UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Ms. Dena Assaf has been appointed as UN Resident Coordinator for the United Arab Emirates.
Ms. Louisa Vinton has been appointed as UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Georgia.
Ms. Nathalie Ndongo-Seh (Cameroon) has been appointed as UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for the Kingdom of eSwatini.
Please join me in congratulating Marina, Dena, Louisa and Nathalie to their new assignments.
Kind regards,
Achim Steiner"

  Since Dena Assaf was one of the 14 double dippers, Inner City Press on October 30 asked not only Guterres' two spokesmen but also his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed: "please immediately explain the outcome of the inquiry into “double dipping” at UNDP Inner City Press previously asked you about and you said you would have an answer about, and explain how one of the 14 double dippers named by whistleblowers has just been named the UN resident coordinator in the UAE." Despite promises by Guterres' Global Communicator Alison Smale, including to UNSR David Kaye, that questions would be answered, this one has not been. But now this, from inside UNDP "From: Achim Steiner
Sent: Thursday, November 1, 2018 4:57 PM
Subject: Arrangements for RC/RRs
Dear Colleagues,
Further to the announcement of newly appointed UN Resident Coordinators and UNDP Resident Representatives, please note that as of 1 January 2019, following the de-linking of the functions of the UN Resident Coordinator and those of the UNDP Resident Representative as mandated by General Assembly resolution 72/279, Ms. Marina Walter and Ms. Nathalie Ndongo-Seh will continue serving as UN Resident Coordinators, whereas Ms. Louisa Vinton will continue to serve as UNDP Resident Representative. Kind regards." And Dena Assaf? The UN, despite the murky corruption into which Guterres is taking it, must explain.

And here they are, UNanswered by Guterres' spokesman Dujarric who instead blocks Inner City Press after having roughed up, so with names unredacted as no responses at all to questions asked in three days ago to Guterres' Team, including on WOGC, connected to imprisoned UN briber Ng Lap Seng's Carlos Garcia, dealing in Kiribati with the UN, separate exclusive here, now this: "Dear Matthew, While UNDP and all UN agencies are suffering from the budget problem, some dishonest UNDP staff are taking two entitlements using their two passports interchangeably against the UNDP benefits entitlement rules.  As a US Citizen, they get US Tax reimbursement; they also get Home Leave and Education grant entitlements using their national/original passport.  It is sad to see UNDP’s senior staff participated in this fraud, as you can see from below Atlas record these staffs grade is from P4 – D2.  Predominantly, Ana Patricia ALVAREZ, and  Shazma Nathwani, the  HR Advisors also participated in this scam.   Some of the staff got more than $100,000 with this ongoing problem, e.g. Shazma Nathwani, $168,000. HR Staff have identified this issue early this year and reported to the HR Director and BMS Director but no action taken.  All UNDP staff in HQ knows this problem but had no other choice fear of retaliation, because of these people close relationship with UNDP senior management including their network.  We need your help...

ATLAS Record - List of Staffs with inappropriate  multiple benefits
No     Name     Title     Current Location     Level     Country-Place of Home Leave      Nationality Types     Douale payments made
1      ALVAREZ, Ana Patricia     HR Business Partner Central Bureaus, HQ/BMS/OHR     UNDP - New York     P-5     Honduras     Honduras- official     Home Leave and Education Grant
                                    USA - Tax      
2      ASSAF, Dena     Deputy Director, HQ/UNDOCO     UNDP - New York     D-2     Palestine     Palestine - official     Home Leave
                                    USA - Tax      
3      BRANT Heather     Chief of Section, HQ/Evaluation Office     UNDP - New York     P-5     Switzerland     Switzerland - official     Home Leave and Education Grant
                                    USA - Tax      
4      ALAIN Noudehou     Chief of Staff & Director, Executive Office, CO/SS     South Sudan     D-2     Benin     Benin - official     Education Grant
                                    USA - Tax      
5      ORUC  Yesim     Deputy  Director, HQ/BERA/LO/Washington     Washington     P-5     Tureky     Turkey - official     Education Grant
                                    USA - Tax      
6      REIMOV, Ajmiyaz     Programme Analyst (Research), HQ/BPPS     UNDP - New York     P-2     Uzbekistan     Uzbekistan - official     Education Grant
                                    USA - Tax      
7      RUSSELL, Andrew     UN Development Coordinator, HQ/BMS/OHR     UNDP - New York     D-1     Canada     Canada - official     Education Grant
                                    USA - Tax      
8      SERENYI Peter     Policy Specialist, HQ/UNDOCO     UNDP - New York     P-4     Hungary     Hungary - official     Education Grant
                                    USA - Tax      
9     SHAMASH-LADD Hamutal Esther     Legal Specialist     UNDP - New York     P-4     Israel     Israel - official     Home Leave
                                    USA - Tax      
10      UNGUREANU Carla     Human Resources Analyst, HQ/BMS/OHR     UNDP - New York     P-2     Peru     Peru - official     Home Leave
                                    USA - Tax      
11      JUHKAM Robert     Team Leader, HQ/BERA     UNDP - New York     P-5     Estonia     Estonia - official     Home Leave and Education Grant
                                    USA - Tax      
12      KINSLEY Sharon     Deputy Chief of Staff & Deputy Director     UNDP - New York     D-1     UK     UK - official     Home Leave and Education Grant
                                    USA - Tax      
13      LINOU Natalia     Policy Specialist, HQ/BPPS     UNDP - New York     P-4     Greece     Greece - official     Home Leave and Education Grant
                                    USA - Tax      
14      NATHWANI Shazma     Human Resources Specialist, HQ/BMS/OHR     UNDP - New York     P-4     Australia     Australia - Official     Home Leave
                                    USA - Tax     A

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