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At UNDP, Whistleblower Says Somalia Contracts Steered to KPMG, Previous Complaints Unresolved

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

UNITED NATIONS, May 14 -- Another whistleblower about alleged wrongdoing inside the UN Development Program surfaced on Wednesday, Dr. Ismail Ahmed, detailing among other things UNDP's steering of contracts about Somalia to KPMG without competitive bidding. Inner City Press sought comment on this specific allegation and others from UNDP Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who replied that " We take Ismail Ahmed's allegations seriously and that's why we're examining them thoroughly. I will not get into the details of responding to Mr. Ahmed's accusations at this point as this would prejudge the outcome of the investigator's work."

   But Ahmed had so little confidence in UNDP's in-house investigators that he took his evidence to the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services. (Since OIOS is currently under fire for botching or whitewashing an investigation into UN peacekeepers trading gold and guns with rebels in the Congo, to choose it over UNDP says much about UNDP.)

  The issue was raised at the UN's noon briefing on Wednesday, to Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq, who said

"UNDP now has a new legal framework to process exactly these types of cases.  The new Ethics Adviser is part of this new framework.  There are two separate issues raised by the person involved in this case; issues of retaliation and issues of corruption.  Those two issues are being dealt with separately. On retaliation, the Office of Audit and Investigation has investigated the claims and has now submitted its report to the UNDP Ethics Adviser.  He will review the issue for possible action.  And there’s also a possibility, as you asked, for having that case reviewed by the UN Ethics Office.... At this stage, the report is with the UNDP Ethics Adviser, as I said, and he’ll review the issue for possible action and bearing in mind that it could then go on to be reviewed by the UN Ethics Office.  No decision has been made on that level yet.  Yes?

            Because of the number of whistleblowers and unresolved questions about UNDP have continued to mount -- for example, Mathieu Koumoin from Cote d'Ivoire, who alleges UNDP's diversion of funds from Africa to Canada- and Europe-based firms, now as presented exclusively by Inner City Press has his Joint Appeals Board panel re-shuffled and remains in limbo

UNDP's Dervis at non-public signing, KPMG and Q&A not shown

-- Inner City Press then asked

"The report that was supposed to be done about the North Korea whistleblower many months ago was supposed to be finished by the end of the year, then it was said by the end of March, now we're in May.  What’s the status of that report, and why hasn’t it been finished and released?

Associate Spokesperson:  It hasn't been released.  The work is still being done.  We'll try and find out when it can be completed, but, as you know, there've been a number of procedural delays.

Question:  Can we find out -- the three members of it -- can we get a read on what they're being paid, and whether they've been paid throughout and whether the inquiry taking this long has resulted in extra costs, I guess?

Associate Spokesperson:  Well, those costs would be evaluated once the report is turned in.  But, at this stage, we don’t know how long it takes, how much work is involved in writing the report until it's complete.

            But how much the panelist are being paid per month is already known -- it does not require waiting to the already twice-delayed completion of the report.  Inner City Press asked:

a request that might make your job easier, if you have a UNDP person come and give a briefing.

Associate Spokesperson:  There's a brand new UNDP person, who I am sure you know, and you can talk to him at any time.  He loves to talk to you guys.

Inner City Press: Maybe he’ll do it from here, so you’re not the one...

Associate Spokesperson:  Oh, he's familiar with this podium, but I think he'll talk to you somewhere else.

  The indication is that these long-promise regular briefings by and Q&A with UNDP will begin in September. In UNDP time, if the past is any guide, that might mean 2010. Neither UNDP's Kemal Dervis nor Ad Melkert have made themselves available for questions in some time. Watch this site.        

Footnote: to move UNDP's argumentation forward, if nothing else, while some not-yet-complicit UNDP arguers seem to believe that Ahmed's claim is clan-based, UNDP itself continues to cause offense to many clans, as evidence for example by this quote: "All women from the different tribes in Somalia were invited in the conference which conducted by UNDP and UNOPS and we are left behind and that is absolutely inhuman," said Asha Malaq Mahdi a member of the Banadiri women. Click here for more, and here's hoping for a new era of forthright answers, if not behavior, at UNDP.

* * *

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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