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In Corrupt UN of Guterres UNOPS Karim Dodges Swiss Taxes Attending Fashion Events from Mansion

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive CJR  Video

UNITED NATIONS, January 22 – 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. It involves UNOPS, the UN Office of Project Services, as does this, which we exclusively report as Guterres' spokesman have refused to answer any Inner City Press questions for ten working days despite lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric's on camera promise of answers, and the written one of Guterres' USG Alison Smale: Several reports were received in the last few weeks by Inner City Press from UNOPS consultants in Geneva who claim that after years of administrative uncertainty, they are now facing a threat of paying taxes for up to 5 years retroactively, which, for some of them, amounts to few hundred thousand US dollars. The consultants claim that while UNOPS has for the last few years denied any knowledge of tax issues in Geneva, UNOPS more recently have directed them to talk to Swiss local authorities,  the local authorities were often unaware of what their status entailed, explaining that they were not liable to tax payments, while the UNOPS Geneva Human Resources had not provided clarity on the matter to incoming workers. It is said that UNOPS deploys over 300 consultants in Geneva, who have, all of a sudden, been told, in late 2018,  that their contracts were not tax exempt. We are told that over the past couple of months few dozen UNOPS consultants have resigned, and fled the country.    In an attempt to save face, Mr Moin Karim, UNOPS Regional Director, has forced some of his consultants to sign fraudulent new contracts, that claim that they work from countries other than Switzerland, where UN is exempt from paying tax on its consultants, in order to avoid mass resignations or fines by the Swiss government. These consultants, who pretend to be working from abroad, continue coming to their offices at UNOPS in Geneva on daily basis – a scam that Mr Moin is trapped to maintain in order to justify the relatively large size of the UNOPS office in Geneva, which in turn justifies the size of his Directorate and his position, rank and pay grade within UNOPS.   Moin Karim of UNOPS reportedly does not frequently come to his office in Geneva these days, and mostly works from either his expensive Geneva mansion - akin to Guterres and his $15 million Sutton Place mansion -  or his private resort apartment in the Swiss mountains, to avoid dealing with UNOPS disgruntled employees or anything to do with UNOPS. Instead, Mr Karim has been paying frequent visits to a number of fashion events in Geneva and London (where he happens to own yet another luxury apartment), as can be seen here and here.   It is also reported that Mr Moin Karim is not just an ordinary visitor to these fashion events, but he also heavily invests into the fashion industry, perhaps as his fallback plan, should UNOPS Executive Director one day find down the extent to which matters are confused in UNOPS Geneva office and ask Mr Karim to resign, the whistleblowers muse.  One also wonders, how a UN staff member, whose career has seen nothing but civil servant work to UN over the past 20 years, can afford buying properties in 2 most expensive capitals to live in the world. But a fish rots from the head - Guterres omitted from his UN public financial disclosure covering 2016 his paid board position with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation which tried to sell its Partex Oil to UN briber CEFC China Energy. A fish rots from the head - but we will continue to ramp up coverage of both the head and the tail, or fins...  Since Guterres and his spokesman Stephane Dujarric refused to answer any of banned Inner City Press 36 questions in the penultimate week of 2018, and 15 in the year's final week including about Guterres' own conflicts of interest, and even worse in 2019, here is more on 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 Press, 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.


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