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UN Overspent by $7M on Afghan Police, "Intentional Overriding," ICP Shows

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive, 9th in Series

UNITED NATIONS, July 14 -- UN system officials talk about Afghanistan without addressing the System's demonstrated corruption there.

  But this ninth installment of Inner City Press' exclusive series shows that the UN Development Program's Law & Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan overspent by over $7 million on "police remuneration" and $4 million on "procurement of non-lethal equipments."

  For the UN's credibility, however, these unrebutted internal audit may well be lethal. Click here to view "Observation #9," which blames the overruns on "intentional overriding of internal controls and or human error."

  Who is being held accountable for these errors / "intentional overridings of internal controls"?

   While these questions go unanswered, at its July 13 noon briefing the UN asked for more money and speechified:

"The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says Afghans are facing an uncertain future, despite improvements in education, health care and political participation over the past decade. The departure of foreign troops will reduce economic activity, State revenues and foreign aid, putting the development gains of the last decade at risk and exacerbating humanitarian needs in one of the poorest countries in the world. The Office notes that the current consolidated appeal for Afghanistan for this year calls for $448 million to implement 165 projects across the country. Halfway through the year, this appeal is only 30 per cent funded."

  Could the UN's unaddressed corruption have something to do with this resistance to give it more money? And for Michele Bachellet, spokesman Martin Nesirky read out that

"Afghanistan has been witnessing cases of extreme abuse and appalling violence against women. These actions have sparked national and international outrage, and have once again focused attention on the continuing and urgent need to protect women's and girls' rights as the world redefines its role in Afghanistan, and as the Government of Afghanistan moves forward in transition."

  Bachelet is reputed to get things done -- maybe SHE should oversee the UN's response to and clean up of Afghanistan operations, now that she has spoken about the country.

  As noted in the first and second installments of this series LOTFA purports to be about training and "building capacity" of Afghan police. But it is essentially a money transfer and payroll service, with a sideline as a travel agency.

  But even its payroll service is mismanaged.  As Inner City Press has exclusively reported and UNDP has not addressed, in "Observation # 6" the auditors said that

"We observed differences between number of police personnel as per HR record maintained by MOI and EPS records. We noted that EPS record was showing excess number of police personnel than the number of police personnel appearing in the HR record... Differences in personnel records between HR and EPS may have following impacts/risks: Salaries may be paid to persons who are not actually on the payroll; Double payments of salaries may be made to staff members."

 As published by Inner City Press, this internal audit shows that in in Asmayi Region, the excess staff number was over 1000.

  In Kunar it was 429; in Badakhshan it was 219. "We're talking real money on these phantom Afghan police," as one whistleblower exclusively said to Inner City Press.

   Back 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 answered 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.

   Given the non-responsiveness of UNDP, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office, which referred the questions back to UNDP, beyond providing a canned statement from SRSG Jan Kubis. 

As to UNDP, one would think the agency would 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 Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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