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In Afghan Scandal, UNDP Failed to Oversee, Despite Taking 7% Fee, Dervis and Akbank

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

UNITED NATIONS, April 14 -- After the UN Development Program and UN Office of Project Services repeatedly refused information requests from the U.S. government about missing and misallocated aid money, UNDP spokesman Stephane Dujarric on Tuesday told the Press that "there were lapses, perhaps, in responding" and they he estimates $1.5 million will be returned. But the U.S. government report -- online here -- puts the missing money at over $7 million; a collection agency had to be hired.

  Dujarric on Tuesday said that the lesser known agency UNOPS was responsible for the work, that $25 million was, to UNDP, "pass through" money. But what oversight did UNDP provide for the seven percent fee that Dujarric says it charged? Clearly, very little. Funds were reported moved to projects in Sri Lanka, Sudan, Haiti and Dubai. Click here for a 2007 Inner City Press report on UNOPS in Dubai, cracking down on a whistleblower; here for UNOPS' own open bragging about Dubai.

  In fact, UNDP has something of a conflict in purporting to oversee or watchdog UNOPS. The director of UNOPS, Jan Mattsson, who notably has refused to follow Ban Ki-moon's call for basic public financial disclosure, was to work at UNDP. Mattsson has been noticeable absent in defending UNOPS against it recent back to back scandals, leaving that job to his also scandal-scarred deputy.

UN's Ban speaks to UNDP staff, Mattsson's disclosure and 7% fee, response to USAID not shown

  Inner City Press asked, and Dujarric did not answer, which of the individuals named in the U.S. report are still in the employ and pay of UNDP. Carlos Haddad, for example, who refused repeated request for information -- is he there?

  Dujarric referred to the "acting Administrator" leading the response to this most recent UNDP scandal. To many, this lacks credibility. Ad Melkert, twice passed over for the agency's top job and tapped by insiders to leave, proclaimed during UNDP's tight-lipped response to a previous scandal that "you ain't see nothing yet." We still haven't.

  All of this take place mere weeks before new Administration Helen Clark arrives. Will she move to clean up UNDP, to improve or cancel its lax "pass through money" programs?

Footnote: previously Administrator Kemal Dervis, who quickly landed another UN gig advising Ban Kid-moon for the G-20 in London, has now taken a post with Akbank in Turkey. Inner City Press asked the UN's spokesman if this might implicate the anti-revolving door rules announced by yet another previous UNDP Administrator, Mark Malloch Brown, in the final weeks of the Kofi Annan administration. The spokesman said he wasn't yet sure of the facts of the case. Watch this site.

  Click here for a new YouTube video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece 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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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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