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Inner City Press Podcast --

For UNDP Audit, UN Controller Met With Timo Pakkala While UNDP Refuses to Answer

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

UNITED NATIONS, February 12 -- While the UN Development Program now uses the audit called for by Ban Ki-moon as a pretext to refuse to answer any questions about North Korea, UN Controller Warren Sach on Monday confirmed to Inner City Press that he met with UNDP's Resident Coordinator for North Korea, Mr. Timo Pakkala, on February 9. Mr. Sach urged Pakkala to meet with the head of the UN Board of Auditors, "to coordinate on logistical arrangement for the forthcoming audit."

            On the evening of February 8, Inner City Press contacted Mr. Pakkala at the Crowne Plaza hotel on 42nd Street and asked him among other things to comment on the purpose of his visit to New York from Pyongyang. "It is my job to be here," Pakkala answered. Inner City Press asked why he hadn't been in New York two weeks earlier, when UNDP's Executive Board debated whether and how to continue programs in North Korea.

Timo Pakkala: UNDP's man in North Korea

  Mr. Pakkala repeated several times that the questions should be put to the head of UNDP's Communications Office, David Morrison.  Inner City Press explained that a simple question about the volume of funds handled by UNDP in North Korea, asked directly of UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis on February 1, had still not been answered. Mr. Pakkala expressed surprise, and said he would urge Mr. Morrison to answer at least these new questions.

            On February 9, however, the following statement from UNDP arrived:

Subject: Questions on UNDP & DPRK

From: Communications Office at

To: Inner City Press

Sent: Fri, 9 Feb 2007 6:18 PM

Matthew, Regarding your February 8 questions about UNDP and the DPRK: As you know, UNDP's operations in DPRK are undergoing a thorough audit. We welcome this audit which will enable us to take additional management action as needed. Until the audit is completed, it would not be appropriate to comment on our work there beyond what we have already said in the statements of January 19 and 25. (

            Presumably this invocation to the right against self-incrimination, embodied in the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment, is also directed at the still unanswered question Inner City Press directed to Kemal Dervis on February 1, namely, how many money has UNDP processed, for itself and other UN agencies, in North Korea? If it takes a full second audit to even venture a numeric response to this simple question, something if very wrong indeed.

            UN Comptroller Warren Sach, on the other hand, sent a response to questions the same morning they were posed. While he referred most of the questions to other parties, on the UNDP North Korea audit he told Inner City Press this:

Subject: Re: Press questions on UNJSPF and audits / UNDP / North Korea

From: Warren Sach

To: Inner City Press

Sent: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 10:01 AM

  Dear Mr Lee, Thank you for your e-mail of earlier this morning which is hereby acknowledged. I did meet with UNDP's Resident Coordinator for North Korea, Timo Pakkala on Friday 9 Feb. I advised him to contact the Executive Secretary of the Board of Auditors, Mr Anand Goolsarran to coordinate on logistical arrangement for the forthcoming audit. Mr Goolsarran would also be the best person for you to contact re Board of Auditors matters. The ACABQ Chairman, Mr Rajat Saha has written on Friday 9th Feb requesting that a special audit be conducted by the BoA in N Korea. This followed my own formal request to ACABQ that the BoA be requested to undertake an audit; in connection with that request the ACABQ held separate hearings on Wed 7th

Feb with both myself and the representatives of the BoA on the request for an audit. I do know if the BoA has yet begun the audit; I suspect they have a number of logistical steps to take before field work begins; Mr Goolsarran can best advise you.

            Inner City Press has posed the following questions to Mr. Goolsarran of the UN Board of Auditors:

Dear Mr. Goolsarran --

Hello... When will the audit(s) actually begin? We have heard a date of February 16. Is that correct? Who will perform the audit? ... Have you spoken with Mr. Pakkala? We are also informed that you met with the ACABQ on February 7. In the two meetings, what logistical arrangement were arrived at?

   Can you comment on the fact that the DPRK issues were not mentioned in the most recent publicly available audit of UNDP, which also refers, on Russia, to a document being "released" when it is nowhere available? Will the audit include other agencies such as WFP, UNFPA, WHO, FAO and others?  If limited to UNDP, will it include the money that UNDP pays on behalf of other agencies? Will any agencies be audited in geographies beyond the DPRK? If so, when?

There has been difficulty for the press in getting even basic information. UNDP, for example, has most recently told us regarding all North Korea-related questions, including a simple total figure of money UNDP handled for FAO, UNFPA and other UN agencies, that "Until the audit is completed, it would not be appropriate to comment on our work there..." In your position with the Board of Auditors, do you think it is  appropriate for a UN fund or program to cite the existence of one of your audits to, in the American  vernacular, expansively invoke the Fifth Amendment for at least 90 days on a wide range of issues of public concern?

   Note that UNDP has also neglected to answer simple factual questions about issues entirely unrelated to North Korea. Developing.

Again, because a number of Inner City Press' UNDP sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of UNDP and many of its staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep the information flowing.

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

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While UNDP's North Korea Representative Is in a NY Hotel, Dervis Is Cut Off and the Fund Details Protected

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, February 8 -- In continued inquiry into the function and dysfunction of the UN Development Program, in the run-up to the "urgent" audit for which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called, a more detailed picture is emerging.

   Just as UNDP rebuffed requests from even its funders to see the internal audits of its North Korea operations, UNDP has been less than helpful in showing how it functions.  Simple information asked for on February 1, directly from Kemal Dervis and then in writing from his spokesman, has yet to be provided: the figures of UNDP's total outflow of funds in the DPR Korea in the past five years, including on behalf of other UN entities.

            Ten days ago, the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization answered Inner City Press' questions by stating that in the DPRK its "staff are paid in Euro by the UNDP on behalf of FAO. UNDP charges FAO for every transaction it carries out on behalf of the Organization."

            A week after asking UNDP for how much it paid for others in DPRK, Inner City Press sought the information from UNDP's Resident Coordinator in the country, Mr. Timo Pakkala. He is not actually resident at the moment: he is in a hotel near the United Nations. [By contrast, Mr. Dervis has been in Kenya, and Mr. Melkert in Paris, while their press team brags of putting out the scandal fire, in part by sheer stonewalling.]

        Thursday Inner City Press sent simple email questions to, among others, Mr. Pakkala, with a copy to two UNDP spokespeople. Then some hours later, Mr. Pakkala was reached by phone. He declined to answer questions, referring all inquiries back to the Communications Office, from which answers have been awaited for at least the last week, and on other questions longer. [This might be contrasted to an interview Inner City Press conducted the same evening with another figure in a UN controversy, Yuri Kondralyev, click here to view.] Certain of Inner City Press' initial and still unanswered questions were copied to Kemal Dervis, without response and without effect, the context of which will be described in the parable sketched below.

            UNDP's king of eighteen months is blind and out of touch, according to informed sources.  Kemal Dervis is cut off from most of the staff, behind a phalanx of longer-term players, most from the era of Mark Malloch Brown. There is Bruce Jenks, controller of a network of trust funds, head of the corporation-celebrating "Bureau for Resources and Strategic Partnerships." There is the gatekeeper-in-chief, Tegegnwork Gettu, who cuts off emails directed to Kemal Dervis, and only lets through what he wants. (Regardless, in the year 2007, a chief executive will be held responsible for communications directed to him.) There is Darshak Shaw, protector of the trust funds and of the General Ledger.

            What might be found in the full General Ledger? A turning point for UNDP was the adoption under Mark Malloch Brown of a so-called "cost sharing" model, in which country offices were told to be entrepreneurial and raise money or even just middleman fees from whatever donors had in mind. Click here for a Russia example, of which there are more. Governments would funnel money through UNDP to hire their own nationals, at rates higher and in ways more irregular than could be done by the government itself. Thus the group that resists audits, and the making public of audits, extends even to several well-developed nations. It's worth noting, in the most recent public audit, that the Brazil office "had yet to implement Atlas." Because of this office's fundraising, it was allowed to go its own way.

Dervis in Brazil

            Many of the secrets of UNDP are buried in its trust funds, which numbered 468 as of the last public audit. A picture has emerged in which, when Jan Mattsson left UNDP's Bureau of Management to take over UNOPS, the grouping of insiders decided on a replacement calculated to be controllable: Akiko Yuge. Never empowered or given the resources to look too deeply, the Bureau is still run by the old guard, among them Joceline Bazile-Finley, Krishan Batra and Tina Jensen.

            As simply one recent example, Inner City Press is told that Tina Jensen has this year bent the rules to hire one Sven Mads, reportedly never having been in the field and the cause now of some concern.

            UNDP has told Inner City Press it will not answer recruitment-related questions. As recounted above, for the past week UNDP has not answered any questions at all, despite Inner City Press limited new questions until the simple DPRK figures are provided. In the last communication from UNDP, one week ago, the Administrators' spokeswoman denied that Mr. Gettu was part of any old guard, stating that Mr. Dervis selected him as chief of staff after meeting him as head of the Nigeria country office. But others say there is more to the story. The current director for Africa, Gilbert Houngbo, was the previous Nigeria head for UNDP. Dervis' trip to Nigeria was closely managed. If one result was the installation of Mr. Gettu as chief of staff, it was not by mere chance. Cut a chief executive off from the flow of information and it is only a matter of time.

            And now the time draws near. To be continued.

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service.

            Copyright 2006 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540