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In Corrupt UN of Guterres UNOPS Conceals Travel Waste For Kyte And For Agencies Named Here

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive CJR  Video

UNITED NATIONS, December 27 – Amid UN travel waste scandals overseen and mostly covered up by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres - his firing of Erik Solheim being an incongruous example - whistleblowers have told Inner City Press of a new one...twice. Since Guterres and his spokesman Stephane Dujarric refused to answer any of banned Inner City Press 36 questions last week, and 15 so far this week including about Guterres' own conflicts of interest, here is more the story of UNOPS as block box for corruption in Guterres' UN, exclusive to Inner City Press (first in this series, on Rachel Kyte of SE4ALL, here): "The UN Office of Project Services, as recently revealed exclusively to Inner City Press by whistleblowers, is being used to pay for extensive and expensive travel of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-Generalon Sustainable Energy, Rachel Kyte, and her entourage, for over $400,000 in less than two years, was also used as a cover mechanism for expensive travel by agencies, whose own rules prohibit flying consultants and staff on business class. It was reported to Inner City Press - and apparently not yet to the OIOS which Guterres so controls it does not even confirm receipt of detailed complaints including regarding Guterres -  that United Nations Environment Program, UNHCR and UN Habitat have repeatedly used UNOPS to book business class flights for staff who would otherwise be ineligible to fly business  class within their organizations.

 Some of the cases, exclusively reported to Inner City Ppess, include a flight for one of the directors of an agency, hosted at UNOPS, in first class for over $35,000, this is said to be one of many similar cases. There are a number of travelers holding UNOPS employment contracts, whose travel expenses are as high as those of Rachel Kyte and the resigned / fired (hypocritically by Guterres) head of UNEP Erik Solheim. The extensive costs are apparently not only due to business class flights, but also include 5-star hotels, expensive dining, frequently with friends and families invited, airport limousine services, that is on top of the standard UN per diems. 
In 2017, Mr Moin Karim, the director of UNOPS office in Geneva, reportedly received  formal warnings from member states that UNOPS actions and policies have reduced their confidence in the UNOPS leadership and management. While Mr Moin Karim of UNOPS had reassured the donor governments that he will take all necessary actions, he did not seem to be doing much, given the recently discovered case of extensive travel by the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-Generalon Sustainable Energy, Rachel Kyte.
It seems that UNOPS has set-up an official service line that allows for any entity to bypass the UN and donor requirements. The mechanism, set up by UNOPS, is called by UNOPS hosting management, and is managed from UNOPS Geneva office. Headed by Mr Moin Karim, UNOPS office in Geneva facilitates global travel for few hundred consultants of various UN and hosted agencies, including the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), The Stop TB Partnership and Scale-up Nutrition Movement.
In September this year at an opening remark to host another entity, Grete Faremo, appointed by Guterres as UNOPS Executive Director, remarked that when hosted-partnership joins the UNOPS family, UNOPS rules and policies become theirs, and UNOPS extends the scope of UNOPS legal framework, to cover the initiatives that UNOPS hosts. This is a very clear statement of intent to offer a UN-branded platform to by-pass UN and donor rules. This is the UN of Guterres, who covered up his links to that attempted sale of Partex Oil to CEFC, and roughs up and bans the Press which asks.

From Inner City Press' first this series: "Rachel Kyte, the Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforAll), and Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, traveled on business class for $300,000 in 15 months of 2017 and 2018, and $410,000 in 22 months, which doesn’t include her assistants who she insists must take same business class flights as well as few other accompanying crew.

To avoid being exposed to external audit, Se4all, registered independently from UN, sub-contracts UNOPS to manage its travel and consultancy funds, who in turn uses the donor funds (EU, Sweden, UK, Germany, IKEA and others) and its exceptionally flexible travel policy for high officials and consultants to allow for such extensive expenditures, which exceeds UNEPs CEO travel budget. This is happening under the protection of UNOPS Regional Director, Moin Karim, who threatens his team to close their eyes on this misuse of funds, in spite of the issue being brought up by the UNOPS staff to Mr Karim few times." The below has been turned in to the UN's questionable Office of Internal Oversight Services, which must now take notice of this. As Guterres was refusing throughout 2018 to begin any UN audit into China Energy Fund Committee, implicated in the UN bribery prosecution US v Patrick Ho, Guterres had a secret.

   Guterres was and it seems still is connected with and compensated by a company which was trying to sell its oil and gas business to China Energy Fund Committee in 2018. Guterres' failure to disclose and refusal to audit was a direct conflict of interest, which he has tried to cover up by roughing up and banning Inner City Press which asked him about it. (See January 2018 press conference here, July 2018 roughing up by Guterres' UN Security here, banning letter via Press Freedom Tracker here.)

   For years Guterres received money as a board member of the Calouste Galbenkian Foundation, which despite its name is the 100% owner of Partex Oil and Gas. Partex has operations in Angola, Abu Dhabi, Brazil, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Oman and Portugal. It was to a Portuguese court that Guterres, while justifying no listing some of his income, disclosed in 2016 that he was paid at least € 2735 per month for his position with the Gulbenkian Foundation.

   But while a now deleted Foundation web page (archived here) stated that Guterres continued with Gulbenkian into 2018, Guterres did not list it on his most recent, and so far lone, UN Public Financial Disclosure, which covered 2016 ("Disclosing financial and other interests for the 2016 reporting year").

  So why did Guterres disclose his position with the Club of Madrid, but not with the Gulbenkian Foundation / Partex Oil and Gas? It is worth noting that Guterres' wife Catarina Vaz Pinto has also been connected to Gulbenkian.

   Following the roughing up and banning from the UN of Inner City Press which has covered the CEFC scandal throughout, Guterres' head of Global Communications Alison Smale promised UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression David Kaye, who asked, that the UN would still answer Inner City Press' written questions.

   But as 2018 came to a close Guterres' spokesmen Stephane Dujarric and Farhan Haq left unanswered 36 questions in a row from Inner City Press, including this: “Beyond the 35 questions from Inner City Press you refused to answer this week, this is a request on deadline that you (1) state when SG Guterres left his position on the Gulbenkian Foundation,

(2) state why Gulbenkian was not listed on SG Guterres' public financial disclosure which covered 2016;

(3) explain how it is not a conflict of interest for SG Guterres to have refused to start an audit of CEFC in the UN, as requested by Inner City Press in January 2018, given CEFC's bid for the oil business of Gulbenkian.

Also, again, state why under SG Guterres there have been no updates to the UN public financial disclosures since those filed for 2016. Also, again, explain your refusal to answer any of Inner City Press' questions this week despite USG Smale's statements to GAP, me and UNSR David Kaye. On deadline.”

   The question was also sent to the e-mail addresses of Guterres, his chief of staff Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed, and Smale, who earlier in the week told Inner City Press she would take “under advisement” her 17 August 2018 pretextual withdrawal of Inner City Press decade long UN media accreditation.
  It seems clear that Guterres and his team have engaged in censorship for corruption, to conceal a blatant conflict of interest by Guterres. It has been raised by Inner City Press to the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services, and others.  Watch this site.

Back on 5 December 2018 Patrick Ho was found guilty of seven of eight counts of violating the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and month laundering. (He was only not guilty on money laundering in Chad - where the bribe was not through any US bank but in cash, $2 million in a gift box). The evidence showed that the NGO he ran, China Energy Fund Committee, used its ongoing UN consultative status to pay bribes to Ugandan foreign minister - and Ashe's successor as President of the UN General Assembly -- Sam Kutesa.. He was working with precedessor Vuk Jeremic while Jeremic was UN PGA. CEFC even offered weapons, tanks and drones, to Chad's long time president Idriss Deby for oil blocks or a stake in the Chad Cameroon pipeline. (Inner City Press published documents here.)

The night of the verdict I asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres what he will do to clean up the UN, where he has left CEFC without any audit, still in consultative status with the UN. On his way from his Mercedes to a glitzy fundraiser including George and Amal Clooney, Guterres refused to answer. The next day when asked by another journalist why Guterres had refused to answer banned Inner City Press' question, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric claimed that the UN has “cooperated” with the prosecution. But the bribery group remains in the UN, unaudited.

Why has the case of US versus Ho, and now the guilty verdicts, garnered relatively so little interest, with the corruption of the UN exposed by it scarcely mentioned all? SG Guterres is hoping it goes away. In terms of corruption, he did not disclose and refuses to answer on the African business links of his son Pedro Guimarães e Melo De Oliveira Guterres. He refuses to answer how much he spends in public funds flying to his home in Lisbon at least sixteen times sofar as SG.

   So CEFC remains an accredited non governmental organization with the UN's Economic and Social Council, while investigative Inner City Press for which I have been covering the case has been dis-accredited by and ousted from the UN, put on a list of those permanently banned without notice, due process or appeal. On December 7 I was informed I am banned from a “UN Human Rights” event on December 10 to be addressed by Guterres and his human rights commissioner Michelle Bachelet. But this reporting will not stop - Guterres' corruption of the UN must be addressed, through oversight or as is discussed elsewhere, impeachment. From the lofty goals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to Guterres' censorship for corruption is UNacceptable.

  With UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and her Deputy Andrew Gilmour set to speak in the UN on human rights day on December 10, Inner City Press responded to an invitation and was told, "Thank you for registering to attend the Human Rights Day event at the United Nations on Monday 10 December. On Monday, please come to the UN Visitors’ Gate on First Avenue opposite 45th street starting at 2pm, at which time entry passes will be distributed."

Then, past six p.m. on Friday, December 7 this from Bachelet's and Gilmour's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: "Dear Matthew, We have received notification from UN Security that your name was flagged as "BARRED" on the list we submitted for passes for Monday's event (3pm, ECOSOC Chamber). We will therefore not have a pass for you and are unable to facilitate entry.
Thank you for your interest and best regards,
OHCHR New York Office." Photo of email here.

   Inner City Press immediately wrote back, to the sender and Bachelet and her assistant, to Andrew Gilmour and to the moderator of the event, "Particularly since you are the UN Office of the High Commissioner for *Human Rights,* did you not ask why a journalist who asks the Secretary General and his spokesmen about the killings in Cameroon, Burundi, UN corruption, UN peacekeepers' sexual abuse of civilians, and Sri Lanka, is “BARRED” from attending your human rights event - without any hearing or appeal? I will appreciate your Office's answer to this."  We'll have more on this.

 Bachelet gave a speech on October 15 in the UN's Third Committee, she emphasized a prioritization of social and economic rights and said one of the officials of her office is "on mission in Silicon Valley" in the US. There are questions about this - but Inner City Press which has covered human rights and the UN for more than a decade was for the first time banned from access a High Commissioner's speech. This has been raised repeated to Bachelet since she took office but she has so far done nothing, not even responded. Meanwhile on October 12 Cameroon, from whose Paul Biya Secretary General Antonio Guterres took a golden statue and favors in the Fifth (Budget) Committee and remains silent on the slaughter of Anglophones, was elected to a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. This system is failing - but if Bachelet cannot even answer on Guterres maintaining a secret banned list including not only Inner City Press but also "political activists" - and anti-corruption campaigners - then the UN of Guterres has hit its newest low.


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