At UNDP, Scandal Allegations by Stefan Vassilev,
Former Russia Resident Representative
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, March 12 -- As the UN
Development Program denies widespread corruption alleged by the
while being subject to an "urgent audit" called for by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,
a previous UNDP Resident Representative in Russia has written to UNDP to
complain about his treatment.
Sources tell Inner City Press that this push-back by a former "Res Rep" who
asserts that he was scapegoated is a cautionary tale for UNDP as it seeks to
assign blame for those aspects of its operation in North Korea that have lead
Mr. Ban to demand an urgent audit.
Inner City Press previously asked UNDP
about the fraud and theft reported, even in the agency's public audit, in its
Russia operations. UNDP responded by blaming the fraud on previous Resident
Representative Stefan Vassilev:
In a message dated 12/14/2006 7:01:32 PM
Eastern Standard Time, cassandra.waldon [at] undp.org writes:
Kindly find below responses to a number of
your concerns. On UNDP’s Russia office...Stefan Vassilev served as acting
Resident Representative from April until June 2003, and then as Resident
Representative from September 2003 until August 2005... The discovery of
suspected fraudulent activity triggered an internal investigation in June 2005.
This investigation concluded that one payment amounting to $190,000 was
fraudulent. Additional payments that could be fraudulent were under
investigation. Three former UNDP staff members, all locally employed Russian
nationals, were implicated in the fraud. All three resigned from the Country
Office before the investigation was launched. When the extent of the fraud
became evident, Mr. Vassilev was summoned to headquarters. He was removed from
his post in August 2005 and subjected to disciplinary proceedings stemming from
shortcomings in management performance and oversight. Mr. Vassilev is no longer
employed by UNDP.
In September 2005, drawing on the evidence
collected in the investigation, the UNDP Administrator made an official request
to Russian law enforcement authorities to open a criminal investigation into the
fraud. Such an investigation was opened by the Moscow Prosecutor and is
currently under way, with UNDP’s active cooperation.
Inner City Press reported
UNDP's response, and added in a
December 22, 2006 article
that "now Inner City Press learns that Mr. Vassilev was a fall guy. We will be
hearing more -- from, we hope, and about, we guarantee -- about Mr. Vassilev."
HQ - UNDP hidden
Subsequently, the very day that Ban Ki-moon
wrote to the North Korea ambassador to ask for access to auditors, and the day
Kemal Dervis wrote to announce the
suspension of operations in the country
-- Mr. Vassilev wrote to Kemal Dervis and its putative Number Two, Ad Melkert:
To: kemal.dervis [at] undp.org
Sent: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 10:30:23 AM
Subject: Strictly confidential !
was drawn to some publications of Inner City Press where my name is mentioned in
various contexts... Being loyal to the Organization I kept silence and low
profile for years by now, which turned to be a serious detriment to me at the
end. Meanwhile I was subjected to humiliation and harassment by senior managers
including and mostly during your “watch” as UNDP Administrator. I wrote to you
several times trying to bring your attention to what was going on and how the
UNDP machinery was used to target me instead of concentrating on those really
responsible. All this was done with facts and supporting documents as you would
recall. All was in vein [sic]. I did not even get a receipt confirmation reply
from you, though the system showed that you did receive the messages. At the end
I was not only denied fair process (whatever it means within UNDP walls) but my
contract was “conveniently” not extended while finally after much push on my
side some in UNDP started to ask inconvenient questions about how the
investigation was done, how I was treated, etc, etc.
I am not
surprised that Inner City publishes this kind of materials [from] UNDP staffers
into major news story along with the real stuff they report on. But in many
cases they are helped by the sloppiness and incompetence of your respective
staff, the silence of UNDP or even by deliberate actions. It also applied to my
case, where the instruction by MMB was given during a meeting at the very
beginning of August 2005 (Kalman
and Brian Gleeson
were there) to concentrate the blame on me, remove me from the post (contrary to
the OAPR advice) so that I could no longer dig-up into the fraud schemes dating
even before year 2000. And a sloppy conspiracy was arranged (involving
ladies close to Kalman).
Facts and documents of all this recently surfaced and I copied some of them to
you and other high level UNDP staff. No action however seemed to be taken with
regard to those involved. Not to speak of talks and hints by Brian Gleeson of my
future appointments within the system "once I help this to be over" and
pressure/requests by other officials who wanted to use me in their internal
games against each other. I.e. "accept the blame as defined by
MMB even before the
investigation really began and you will be taken care of one way or another".
Such talks were even taking place at the
last minutes of Brian's
tenure as Director of OHR and days after I was no longer UNDP staff-member.
As you are perfectly aware I opted for something else, which was the only moral
action possible, i.e. rejected all attempts to be involved... and paid the
price, which according to your staff is high enough: losing D-level job at UN.
Well, I however preserved my dignity at least.
All of you also
"conveniently" forgot what I was sent for to Russia and what I have done to not
only preserve the UN presence in Russia, but to transform the UN resident system
into a key actor in crucial and delicate areas, including the conflict region of
Chechnya. It was under my watch that UNDP and UN in Russia turned from "non
grata" actors to success story for all sides and the RC system started to
finally functioned. Not least, it was during my watch that international hostage
taking not only stopped, but hostages started to be release and UN presence in
North Caucasus not only expanded but survived without any loss the bloody events
in Ingushetia an as in the case of Beslan was there the first to offer organized
help. If you consider this to be my own over-estimation I could DHL you couple
of kilograms of letters from the UN SG, respective USG/Heads of Agencies,
foreign donors, top management, etc...
By now and
after all happened I do not have much respect to UNDP, its previous or current
management, however, my own system of values dictate me to write this to you and
to let you know about what I feel. Though I seriously doubt it, in case you have
anything to say to me, I could be reached via this e-mail address. Please make
no mistake: I do this only because of the good part of the memories I have about
UNDP and my understanding of personal integrity and I do not want or expect
anything from you. S. Vassilev
The referenced Kalman is
Kalman Mizsei; as Mr. Vassilev's message makes clear, no
him is complete without reference to "his ladies," many of whom continue in the
posts he doled out until he unceremonious departure in September 2006. UNDP's
negligence, or kowtowing to Mizsei's protector, have played a role in his
appointment to represent the European Union in or to Moldova.
The "MMB" is, of course,
Mark Malloch Brown,
long-time administrator of UNDP, now at Yale University writing a book that is
not predicted to include the material raised and seen by Mr. Vassilev and
While Inner City Press is
continuing to inquire into much Vassilev-related material that has come in, on
other matters, UNDP now does not even provide information it publicly commits to
sending (click here for that story), about its North Korea scandal which led to
Ban's call for an urgent audit. That beyond the way Inner City Press was
provided with the email, additional sources also offered it, cannot bode well
for UNDP. The Chicago Tribune's story alleging more widespread problems quotes
at least two "UN officials with extensive knowledge of the program" in North
Korea. Resident Representatives, while UNDP-administered, are "UN officials,"
with UN (and not UNDP) contracts. It is in this context, UNDP sources tell Inner
City Press, that. Mr. Vassilev's recent message and the material annexed and
referred to is such a cautionary tale for UNDP. When you throw a Res Rep under
the bus, trying to confine the blame to that level, you risk dark secrets coming
Again, because a number of Inner City Press'
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 the
UN agencies and many of their 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.
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
(and weekends): 718-716-3540
Korea, Ban Ki-moon Refers Press to UNDP, Which Refuses to Provide Promised
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, March
12 -- The UN Development Program on Monday flatly denied a
Chicago Tribune story that
it has paid envelopes of cash in North Korea, and that it has had an difficulty
in visiting projects in the country, including those executed by the Kim Jong Il
to reporters off-camera after the regularly scheduled (and
UNDP spokesman David Morrison complained that when he was interviewed by the
Chicago Tribune, he was not asked about envelopes of cash nor about the 300 (or
298) phantom computers that ended up in the
In response to questions from correspondents including Inner City Press,
Morrison promised to verify and provide at least five pieces of information.
Inner City Press twice verbally asked to be provide with the promised
information, and committed the request to an email by 2 p.m. Monday. This
request is set forth below. Eight hours later, UNDP had not provided any of the
information to Inner City Press.
the noon briefing, as
the UN, Inner City Press asked:
Inner City Press: On the North Korea
update you gave and on the audits, I’m definitely glad that we'll speak to Mr.
Morrison afterwards. But this is for you, as the Spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon.
Is the UN-administered staff, Timo Pakkala, the Resident Representative leaving;
and, if so, who is going to be Ban Ki-moon's Representative in Pyongyang now
that he leaves? And, also on the audit, we've seen a memo from the Board of
Auditors to four agencies -- UNDP, UNOPS, UNFPA and UNICEF... Has there been any
response to Ban Ki-moon's 28 February letter?
Spokesperson: I think you should direct
all those questions to UNDP. We've already answered as much as we could.
Inner City Press: There are three other
agencies. That’s why I'm directing it to you. I don't think he can answer for
UNFPA or anybody.
Spokesperson: Well, the process is
continuing. I told you that the other day. It's starting with UNDP. And it's
going to continue for other agencies.
Inner City Press: But why is WFP not on
the list, but UNICEF is? Who do we ask that? Obviously it's not UNDP.
Spokesperson: I can find out for you from
the Board of Auditors how they are going to proceed and what is going to be the
Inner City Press: Is Timo Pakkala
leaving? Who is the Resident Rep or Resident Coordinator? Who is going to
represent the UN?
Spokesperson: This is a question to be
answered by UNDP.
David Morrison did not answer who the next UN Resident Representative in North
Korea will be. In fact, Mr. Morrison claimed not to know the name of the Deputy
Resident Representative being left behind -- that would be
Vineet Bhatia -- and, of the country officer whom Mr.
Morrison said has been visiting North Korea four times a year, Morrison claimed
not to know his last name, only his first: Napoleon (that would be Napoleon
Morrison: once upon a time
One correspondent asked Morrison if he is
in any position to authoritatively deny the
Chicago Tribune's report. Morrison said that he is. Inner City Press asked
if UNDP administered and handled the $10 million that the World Health
Organization had responded that it received from South Korea for North Korea.
know about WHO," Morrison answered. "I do know that there is no earmarked South
Korean money that has gone to UNDP going back, I believe, ten years. There is no
trust fund for North Korea that UNDP has been involved in." We'll see. Even in
UNDP's most recently public audit, there is for example a "UNDP / Republic of
Korea Trust Fund." That is only one example.
Morrison was asked, repeatedly, to
provide a total figure of money UNDP has expended in North Korea, on its own
behalf and for other UN agencies. He was asked, "Can we get the figure?" He
answered, "Sure." Inner City Press asked Kemal Dervis for this figure on
February 1, 2007,
and never got it. Ad Melkert was asked for the figure in mid-February, and still
not. On March 12, UNDP spokesman David Morrison promised the figure, and nine
hours later had not provide it, nor any explanation.
Morrison did say that the DPRK has not
responded to UNDP's March 1
letter announcing the
suspension of operations, and that UNDP has told the International Atomic Energy
Agency to find another UN agency to make its payments in North Korea for now.
Morrison was asked if UNDP has any system to make sure its payments for other
agency actually go for the stated purpose. Morrison said he would check and get
back. Nine hours later, no answer had been provided. Morrison said he does not
know how long UNDP's lease in North Korea runs for.
While he is quoted in the Chicago Tribune
that Timo Pakkala is bringing documents from Pyongyang to New York in electronic
form, when Inner City Press on Monday asked him what documents Mr. Pakkala is
bring, Morrison said, "I don't know."
Unrelated to North Korea --
and Inner City Press has many such questions, but it seems pointless to ask
them, when even promised information about North Korea is not provided --
Morrison was asked to describe UNDP's programs in Zimbabwe, and if they will be
modified in light of
last weekend's crackdown on all opposition
by Robert Mugabe, and Ban Ki-moon's
of the crackdown. Morrison answered to the first question, about current
programs, "I can look into it." As to the second question, to which Inner City
Press added the specific question if UNDP will continue to
push for a Mugage-sponsored human rights
commission, Morrison said, "I
don't know." But we've heard that before...
Here are questions Inner City Press
reiterated in writing to two UNDP spokespeople at 2 p.m. on Monday:
DPR Korea - follow-up to "scrum," the various items, thanks in advance
To: david.morrison [at] undp.org>, christina.lonigro [at] undp.org
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2007 14:00:13
after the post-noon briefing hallways scrum, I want to be sure to get the
various things you said you'd look into and get back with:
figure / dollar volume that UNDP expended in / for North Korea, including on
behalf of other UN agencies;
payments of other agencies, there has been anything other than purchase and bill
--if UNDP has
in place any system to check on the use of funds paid for others, any (by
analogy) Know Your Customer system such as banks have;
on visits by UNDP headquarters staff to North Korea.
like to know when the Pyongyang lease expires, how much it costs and how and to
whom it is paid. And please do keep informed regarding the new Resident
other, non-North Korea questions, and even North Korea but non-scrum questions,
but not in this email.
There were and are even some "non-scrum"
and non-North Korea questions.
But none of the above had been answered by 10 p.m. Monday, eight hours after the
questions were posed in writing. Developing.
UN Audit of Four of Its Agencies in N. Korea Starts,
Memo Shows, Only in NY
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, March 12, updated 2:48 pm -- A memorandum from the
UN's Board of Auditors to the UN Development Program and three other agencies,
obtained by Inner City Press, reveals that a two-week audit to be conducted in
New York begins today.
The inter-office memo to UNDP
Administrator Kemal Dervis and the heads of the other three New York-based agencies, the UN
Children's Fund, the UN Population Fund and the UN Office of Program Services --
notably omitting the World Food Program, as well as the FAO and World Health
Organization -- came from the Executive Secretary of the UN's Board of Auditors,
Swatantra A. Goolsarran. It asked the officials to make available by March 12
"an inventory of financial, human resources and project records available both
in New York and the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea [sic]...
and access to correspondence files between UN personnel in DPRK and your New
UNDP's documentation will only arrive in
New York in a week's time, brought by the UN's outgoing Resident Representative
in the North Korea, Timo Pakkala. An internal UNDP memo obtained by Inner City
Press indicates that most of UNDP-North Korea's national staff will leave by
March 15, while four will remain with the Deputy Resident Representative and
Operations Manager to implement the suspension. UNDP will continue to lease its
facilities during the suspension. One wonders: to whom will UNDP pay rent, and
in what currency?
UNDP insiders question whether Timo
Pakkala, who they say has a UN and not UNDP contract, as the UN's Resident
Representative in North Korea, is being fired. His contract, they say, runs out
in July 2007, and this may be used to influence what he tells the auditors. Mr.
Pakkala flies to New York with the documents on March 17, to meet with the
auditors on March 19. By then, only one week will remain in the two-week scoping
audit, and several senior officials, including Kemal Dervis, will have been
interviewed before the auditors have the relevant documents.
Mr. Goolsarran's memo
states that that focus for two weeks will be on the "identification of systems,
expenditures and documentation, the quantification of amounts, the mapping of
the relationships between UNDP, UNOPS, UNFPA and UNICEF at the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea country level, and interviews with personnel."
The memo names the auditors who will
conduct the two-week review: team leader Ms. Odette Anthoo of South Africa, Mr.
Dioni Abalos of the Philippines and Ms. Martine Latare of France. While the memo
refers to "a possible site visit to DPRK," Mr. Pakkala's return to New York with
all documents seems to indicate, at least to well-placed UNDP sources, that the
Kim Jong Il government has not responded positively to UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon's February 28 letter requesting access for UN auditors.
A New York-only audit, even
with the documents being brought by Mr. Pakkala, would be far less than what
Ban Ki-moon publicly called for,
even as Mr. Ban
amended and narrowed it.
The goal of the called-for audit was to see where the money paid out actually
went. This would require on site visits to North Korea, and cooperation by North
Korean government officials, which does not appear to be forthcoming. One source
questions, even if the auditor were allowed to enter North Korea during the 90
day period set by Ban Ki-moon, would they be required to hire North Korean
helpers or minders? The same is asked of the UN International Atomic Energy
Agency team arriving this week in Pyongyang.
auditors line up -- and then proceed without documents
With Mr. Pakkala leaving the
country, a question exists as to who then will be representing the UN system in
North Korea. Sources question whether it will be someone from UNICEF, which is a
part of this two week audit, or of WFP, FAO or WHO, which are not addressed by
the Board of Auditor's memo. [It is not clear if a separate memos for audits in
Rome and Geneva have gone out.] All four agencies have acknowledged, in
responding to written questions from Inner City Press, that they paid hard
currency to the North Korean government for staff selected by that government.
The UN Population Fund, UNFPA, refused to answer Inner City Press' questions,
but an internal audit subsequently obtained shows that UNFPA in North Korea has
been paying in hard currency, through UNDP, click
for that story.
At UNFPA, those addressed along with
Executive Director Thoraya Obaid are Subash Gupta, Rahul Bhalla and head of
audit Olivier Brasseur (who, as Inner City Press has reported, received a
negative audit for his time with the UNFPA's Pakistan office).
UNOPS, where controversy about harassment
and leadership change at the Dubai office continue,
those addressed include only Executive Director Jan Mattsson and his deputy
Vitaly Vanshelboim, as well as a joint UNOPS - UNDP auditor, Santiago Fua.
At UNICEF, along with Ann Veneman (who
told Inner City Press last week that her agency's operations will continue
unchanged in North Korea), those addressed include outgoing deputy Rima Salah,
Claus Andreasen and Comptroller Terry Brown.
Within UNDP, the memo is also addressed
to Associate Administrator Ad Melkert, Darshak Shah, Timo Pakkala (all of whom
have declined to respond to previous questions from Inner City Press), as well
as chief of staff Tegegenwork Gettu, Akiko Yuge, Antoine Khoury, David Lockwood
and Jonathan Ng, "Implementation Advisor," along with the putative head of UNDP,
Mr. Dervis, slated to be interviewed this
week, may continued be distracted. Reports in the Turkish press again indicate
his political ambition to run for office, as well as reporting on a scandal
involving his father, Riza Dervis, reputed to have offered Mercedes automobiles
in exchange for contracts as a supplier of medical equipment to universities in
the past. The apple, one source says, hasn't in this instance fallen far from
the tree. To Inner City Press the relevance is that this familial scandal would
make Mr. Dervis less likely to prevail.
of March 12, 2:48 pm -- UNDP spokesman David Morrison, in another strange
"scrum" with reporters in the hallways outside, rather than at the rostrum in,
the UN's press briefing room, chided Inner City Press for calling this a "two
week audit," despite the inclusion of Mr. Goolsarran's memo's reference to a
subsequent, but not certain, site visit to the DPRK. So, for the record, the
memo does call the two weeks starting today "the first phase of the audit." Will
the Kim Jong Il government subsequently allow the auditors into the country? How
long does UNDP's lease in Pyongyang run? Who will be the Resident Representative
replacing Timo Pakkala? On these and other questions, Mr. Morrison said he did
not know, and would get back with answers, which Inner City Press has requested
orally and by email to receive, today, including the long-ago requested volume
of money that UNDP expended in DPRK including for other UN agencies. Mr.
Morrison said, we can get that number, the overall figure. We're waiting for
The memo is also copied to Alicia Barcena
of the Department of Management, and Controller Warren Sach. Four weeks ago, Mr.
Sach referred Inner City Press' questions to Mr. Goolsarran, who in turn
declined to answer:
Press questions on UNJSPF and audits / UNDP / North Korea
To: Inner City
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 then posed the following
still-outstanding questions to Mr. Goolsarran of the UN Board of Auditors:
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?
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?
Mr. Goolsarran has yet to respond,
although his memo, obtained by Inner City Press, answers some few of the
questions. As previously reported, Controller Warren Sach left UN Headquarters
on February 28, but is slated to be back today on March 12, the day the two-week
audit process begins. Developing...
* * *
From transcript of Feb. 20, 2007, UN noon briefing:
City Press: Does the 90 days -- because he said it should be done in 90 days --
does the 90 days run from when he announced that the audits would begin or from
when they actually began?
Question: Have they begun?
Spokesperson: Actually, I know that -- yes, they have started it.
Question: Which ones have started?
Spokesperson: The external auditors have started on the process.
Question: But could you specify? I mean, there’s a lot of agencies to be
Spokesperson: As you know, they’re starting with the UNDP and the specific case
Question: You say they have started. You mean the one in North Korea?
Question: The clock is running?
UNDP Stonewalls on Trust Funds for N.
Korea, Including S. Korean Money: Unanswered Questions
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, March 6 -- In light of the
UN Development Program's suspension of its
operations in North Korea
earlier this month, following the January 2007 calls for an urgent audit by UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, several simple questions have been asked by Inner
money did UNDP expend in North Korea, and how much of this came from South
Korea, particularly during Mr. Ban's tenure as that country's Minister of
Foreign Affairs and Trade?
Sources tell Inner City Press that there
are funds beyond those disclosed by UNDP's Ad Melkert in January, which he put
the size of UNDP's North Korea program in 2006 at $3.3 million, and by spokesman
David Morrison on March 5, $4.4 million. These undisclosed funds are alleged to
be found in Trust Funds co-sponsored by South Korea's Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Trade (including under Ban Ki-moon) and the South Korean
reunification ministry, flowing to the North Korean government via a
pass-through mechanism, with UNDP reported taking a four percent fee.
Dervis and UNDP logo: how much passing through?
Inner City Press began asking these
questions after receiving confirmation from the UN World Health Organization
that it too accepts staff seconded from the North Korean government, one of the
grounds for Mr. Ban's "urgent audit," and that WHO is receiving $10 million a
year from the South Korean government (now, it is believed, through a Trust
Fund). WHO's spokeswoman wrote:
Ms. NcNab- Checking in for response to our previous questions, thanks
To: Inner City
McNab [at] who.int
Here are the answers below.
comment on: whether the World Health Organization, herein below "you", in North
Korea uses personnel seconded by the government...
A. WHO has 17
staff in its office in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK). There
are four internationally recruited staff, including the WHO Representative, and
13 national staff. As with all agencies working in DPRK, the national staff are
seconded from the government...
confirm or deny that in mid-2005 a South Korean contribution of some $10
million was received by WHO, and is so state the involvement of the South
Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its then-head and provide any and all
A. Yes, last year South Korea committed to
providing the equivalent of US 10 million per year as support to DPRK through
WHO for health-related humanitarian assistance, for three years, primarily in
the field of maternal and child health.
While there have been competing claims,
including from UN Secretariat officials, about whether UN funds and programs in
North Korea beyond UNDP are being audited, and will continue operation, on the
evening of March 6 Inner City Press asked UNICEF's Ann Veneman if her agency
will continue in North Korea.
Ann Veneman said, noting that UNICEF is in a different building that UNDP in
Pyongyang and is engaged, in her words, in more "humanitarian" activities then
UNDP. It is not clear that this was Ban Ki-moon's distinction in calling
for audits. Rather, Mr. Ban referred to paying in hard currency and allowing a
host-government role in staffing, both of which UNICEF below acknowledges.
(Inner City Press thanked Ms. Veneman for UNICEF's having made available for
interview its Senior Advisor for Children in
Armed Conflict, Manuel Fontaine; Ms. Veneman
countered by recommending a recent book on children and armed conflict, which we
will soon review.)
Ban Ki-moon called for an urgent audit of all UN funds, programs and agencies.
this was scaled back to a focus on North Korea and, at least in the first
instance, on UNDP. It has been said that the World Food Program and the UN
Children's Fund, for example, will also be audited.
while attending a press briefing by UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis, Inner City
Press asked Mr. Dervis how much money UNDP has spent in North Korea in recent
years, on its own before and for other agencies (or as a pass-through). Mr.
Dervis did not answer, and subsequently his communications staff declared that
"it would be inappropriate to comment" on its programs or spending in North
Korea until the audit is completed.
On March 2, Kemal Dervis
wrote to North Korea's
UN Ambassador that UNDP is suspending its programs in the country. Inner City
Press is informed that an impact, and even intent, of this announcement is to
make the audit more difficult. Inner City Press asked this question at Ban Ki-moon
spokesperson's noon briefing on March 5.
On March 6, the spokesperson
Ban Ki-moon has written to North Korea asking for access for the auditors.
Meanwhile, Inner City Press has been informed that the Board of Auditors,
meeting until late on March 5, acquiesced to an audit only in New York.
But on the question of how much UNDP
spent, and for and under whom, in North Korea, UNDP, the Secretariat and even
the South Korea mission have been asked. On March 4, Inner City Press emailed
questions to Kemal Dervis, Ad Melkert and other senior UNDP officials. For
Bruce Jenks, the head of UNDP's Bureau
for Resources and Strategic Partnerships was asked "The closing, will it
impact South Korean funds dedicated to the DPRK? What will happen with those
funds?" Mr. Jenks did not answer, and nor after two reminders did UNDP's
Shaw, Director of UNDP's Office of Finance, was asked:
"can all the numbers for the audit be
looked at in New York? Also, we still have a number of questions pending that
have not been answered, including the simple question about who many people
UNDP employs / pays. Perhaps you can answer that?"
Mr. Shaw has not answered, nor
after two reminders has UNDP's Communications Office. In fact, the
Communications Office has ignored a request on the afternoon of March 5:
"Most pressingly, please specify which of
the funds spending through UNDP in the past four years were from South Korea,
and within these, which if any had the involvement of the South Korea Foreign
Ministry and when?"
emailing to Inner City Press terse answering to unrelated questions, the above
"most pressing" question has been ignored by UNDP. Therefore Inner City Press
asked the UN's Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General,
particularly for volume of South Korean funds passed-through UNDP while Ban Ki-moon
headed South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Inner City Press
asked this question orally, not in the noon briefing, on the morning of March 5.
Inner City Press was referred to Soung-ah Choi, a 2007 addition to the
Spokesperson's office, and was told to put the question in writing, which was
"This is a question that I came into the
OSSG earlier this morning to ask, was advised to direct it to you by email:
--what role if any did Ban Ki-moon play
while with the Republic of Korea government in South Korean aid to the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea? If any, did any of this aid involve UN
funds, programs or agencies? If any, could any of this aid be within the scope
of the urgent audits Mr. Ban called for on Jan. 19, as modified Jan. 22?
Context: following UNDP's (quiet, online
only) announcement that it suspended its operations in North Korea on March 1,
Inner City Press has heard from sources information that gives rise to the above
question, as well as to other questions posed directly to UNDP and to the Board
of Auditors. (Including what impact the suspension of operations will have on
the audit, on which we understand the 90 clock is already ticking). I'd wanted
to just orally ask the above questions in your office, now do so by email."
In response, the UN's Soung-ah Choi told
Inner City Press this is not really a UN or Secretary General question, and that
it can only be asked to the South Korea mission, specifically to Ambassador Oh
Joon who, she said, was involved in North-South Korean relations and aid during
the time frame.
of March 16 -- it has been emphasized to Inner City Press that Amb. Oh's
post was for international organizations; point taken.]
On the morning of March 6, Inner City
Press three times called Ambassador Oh. First, his secretary said he would call
back in 15 minutes. Inner City Press explained what it wanted to know. Then, she
said that Amb. Oh had been called away on urgent business, and to leave the
question in his phone-mail. Inner City Press did so, along with an additional
question, and waited. The day ended with no response by the South Korean mission
to a question referred to them by the Office of the Spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon.
While Inner City Press did later on
March 6 get a response from UNICEF's Ann Veneman, that UNICEF's operations will
continue, we would be remiss to not note that UNICEF has acknowledged both hard
currency payments and acceptance of seconded staff. Here were
UNICEF's first responses to Inner City Press:
you pay salary, DSA, utilities, rent and other expense in hard currency (Euros,
dollars or otherwise) in North Korea
A: DPRK -- Of
the 30 UNICEF staff in the Pyongyang office, 10 are international professionals
recruited through New York headquarters and stationed in Pyongyang for up to
five years. They have the bulk of their salaries paid to personal overseas
bank accounts. Twenty are local staff. For local staff, UNICEF transfers
their salaries to the host government, which in turn is responsible for paying
each of the 20 national staff members... they are selected by the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs which then seconds them to UNICEF.
Inner City Press has asked numerous UNDP
officials, and spokespeople, to specify which of the three listed conditions,
including stopping payment in hard currency and acceptance seconded staff, could
not be met by March 1. In light of UNDP's refusal to answer this simple
question, it is difficult to understand Ms. Veneman's statement that that
UNICEF, with the same practices, can and will continue operating.
At the March 6 noon briefing, Inner
City Press again asked that UNDP's Administrator Kemal Dervis, who signed the
letter suspending operations in North Korea and who is reportedly the stealth
manner of the suspension's delayed announcement, come and answer questions. From
Press: Yesterday, I’m told the UNDP was here. I wasn’t able to hear what they
said in the hall because we had a briefing on human trafficking. But I’m told
that they said they now put the value of UNDP’s program in 2006 in North Korea
at 4.4 million rather than 3.2 as was previously said. So, I’m wondering, the
numbers are changing. Is it possible rather than have a briefing out in the hall
to actually have UNDP come and answer questions? Probably Mr. Dervis, since he
signed the letter to suspend operations in North Korea...
I’ll transmit your request to them... Only UNDP can answer.
Again, why are these questions, which
purportedly only UNDP can answer, being asked? Well, sources tell Inner City
Press that there are funds beyond those disclosed by UNDP's Ad Melkert in
January, which he put the size of UNDP's North Korea program in 2006 at $3.2
million, and by spokesman David Morrison on March 5, $4.4 million. These
undisclosed funds are alleged to be found in Trust Funds co-sponsored by South
Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (including under Ban Ki-moon) and
the South Korea ministry for reconciliation, flowing to the North Korean
government via a pass-through mechanism, with UNDP reported taking a four
percent fee. Recently, Inner City Press has heard of UNDP taken even higher
"overhead" fees for administering pass-through funds. We will have more on this.
Other, earlier Inner
City Press are listed here, and
some are available in the ProQuest service.
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