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As UNDP Confirms Grynspan Jet, It Stonewalls on Audits, Kumar

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, June 27 -- Five days after Inner City Press posed Afghanistan corruption questions to the UN Development Program, and launched its audit-a-day exclusive series, on June 27 UNDP provide some partial answers and asked they they be published in full. They are below.

   On the afternoon of June 22, Inner City Press asked UNDP, among other things:

"Please describe expenses for Ms. Grynspan's trip to Afghanistan, including leasing (from UNAMA) of plane for flight from Dubai, and the redeployment / hiding of armored vehicles during her visit."

  On June 27, UNDP has answer thusly:

"The UN Under Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator Ms. Rebeca Grynspan flew, as recommended by UN operations, on Dubai-Kabul-Dubai flights made available on 12 and 14 July by UNAMA, on UN operated planes, as they were the most suitable and secure options. UNDP uses armoured vehicles to ensure the safety of staff, including for high level officials who come on mission."

  As Inner City Press reported in its first story in this series, whistleblowers complained to it that UNDP leased a Lear Jet for Grynspan, while "the SRSG flies commercial" for much less money.

  Inner City Press also asked

--Why Manoj Basnyat is no longer the country director -- did this have ANYTHING to do with the LOTFA irregularities?

   UNDP has now answered, "The previous country director of UNDP in Afghanistan, Mr. Manoj Basnyat left Afghanistan after three and half years, upon completion of his assignment."

  Of the four audits Inner City Press sent to UNDP for comment, UNDP has answered on only one, and on only one question, this one: "In the second to last Description on the first page, MoI Chartered Flight Kabul Turkey, please confirm or deny that UNDP did not send anyone with policing experience to go check out the training in Turkey."

  UNDP denies: "UNDP facilitated the training of more than 500 Afghan police officers in Turkey in 2011, as part of an agreement between Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior/LOTFA and the Turkish Government."

  But did "facilitating" involve anything more than arranging for the flights?

 Significantly, UNDP still hasn't even purported to answer this Inner City Press question, "Please describe criticisms brought to the attention of UNDP by donors about LOTFA, even prior to the public exposure of the scandal."

  Instead, UNPD has provided a long narrative, which it asked to be published in full and is, here:

UNDP responds to recent stories on Afghan audit of the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA)

Afghanistan is one of the most challenging places in the world to work in. The UN has not been spared and many have lost colleagues and friends in terrorist attacks.

The insecurity, the lack of infrastructure, the widespread corruption and the harshness of the terrain make the implementation of any project there extremely difficult.

Despite all these challenges and dangers, the UN family and UNDP in particular have remained there and will continue to do so for as long as needed, to fulfill the mission of helping the Afghan people return to a life of safety and dignity.

The Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan project of building and strengthening a national police force is pivotal to achieving this.

Since LOTFA’s establishment in 2002, the police force in Afghanistan has grown from around 50,000 to over 110,000 personnel. Thanks to LOTFA:

- 80 percent of the more than 120,000 Afghan police receive their salaries directly in their bank accounts through verifiable electronic funds transfer (EFT), whereas five years ago, this figure was less than one percent.

- The rapid expansion of EFT has significantly reduced the potential for inaccurate payments and in inaccessible regions of the country with no banks, new technology like mobile phone money transfers is being used to minimize risks and fraud.

- LOTFA has also provided training to 1,700 government officials at the Ministry of Interior in systems and processes for financial management, accounting, human resources, administration, and latest payroll and funds transfer technologies.

UNDP has been hiring external, independent companies to conduct audits In Afghanistan. This is an essential part of UNDP's internal control mechanism. The audit, which appeared on the internet, was in draft form and does not reflect the content of the final audit report.

Investigations are currently ongoing into various operational aspects of LOTFA. Following UNDP's strict anti-fraud policy as well as staff rules and regulations, appropriate temporary and permanent measures are being taken towards concerned contractors and staff as the investigation progresses.

The recent actions reiterate UNDP's zero tolerance of fraud and its commitment to prevent, identify and address all acts of fraud.

The investigations -- which began weeks before allegations of fraud first appeared in the media -- are conducted confidentially in order to preserve the process’ integrity and to protect the rights of all parties concerned. Its conclusions will be made public once the process is completed.

  Beyond the broad "Please describe criticisms brought to the attention of UNDP by donors about LOTFA, even prior to the public exposure of the scandal," one would think UNDP will have to answer this specific: "the date on which each of Basnyet, Sandeep Kumar and Ubadallah Sahibzada became aware of the irregularities and of the attached audits." Watch this site.

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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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