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In Corrupt UN of Guterres OSSC Chediek Gives Public Money to Argentine Economist To Ghost Write For Him

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive follow up

UNITED NATIONS GATE, January 24 – With the UN Office of South South Cooperation so recently exposed as a bribery vehicle in the Ng Lap Seng - President of the UN General Assembly John Ashe corruption prosecution, OSSC chief Jorge Chediek back in November held another press conference with Inner City Press which reports on his corruption still banned. But the information keeps coming in. Now this: the Office of South South Cooperation can’t seem to escape the legacy of the John Ashe scandal. When he took the helm in the aftermath, Jorge Chediek promised to completely reform the Office by ordering what ultimately proved to be an unsuccessful audit, catapulting the Office into even more pervasive corruption. Instead of working on agency mandated development work, Mr. Chediek plays tin pot dictator, his staff tell Inner City Press, having formed a sizeable patronage network, which he uses to advance his personal agenda. As a result, an environment of mediocrity and abuse of power prevails in the Office. Over the past year, Mr. Chediek has engaged the services of friends from Latin America, in seeming violation of UNDP regulations.   Since 2017  Chediek has been engaging the services of Bernardo Kliksberg, an Argentinian economist, who according to the Office website is listed as Strategic Advisor for South South Cooperation occasionally writing short news articles for the Office’s website to which Mr. Chediek attaches his name. (In the span of 14 months, Mr. Kliksberg has written 8 articles). This is a seemingly wasteful engagement in line with the general waste of UN resources, as there is already a strategic communications advisor in addition to other senior advisors on Mr. Chediek’s payroll. While rank and file candidates must follow a rigorous UN recruitment process, friends of Mr. Chediek get to jump the line for positions, thanks to his utter disregard for UNDP policy.      According to a Facebook post from April 2018 an MoU was signed between the Office for South South Cooperation and the University of Buenos Aires to establish a chairship of a South South programme at theUniversity, which also happens to be Mr. Chediek’s alma mater. Both Mr. Chediek and Mr. Kliksberg now serve as co-chairs of this programme in the University where Mr. Kliksberg has close ties, having served as chair of several other academic programmes. The chairship, against thecontext of Mr. Chediek already having engaged the professional services of Mr. Kliksberg, is a blatant conflict of interest in violation of UN Staff Rule 1.2 which governs the conditions for outside employment, regardless of whether there is remuneration for the particular engagement. Moreover, appointments like this one violate the UN terms on retention of service, particularly section 3, which outlines the conditions for the contracting of services.      And while Mr. Chediek uses UNDP resources for the services of prolific economists to elevate his stature, the Government of Argentina, recently bailed out by the IMF, plans to drop a few million on an Office of South South Cooperation conference, BAPA+40 this March. Macri’s government may have to answer to the scores of angry Argentinians already fed up with harsh austerity measures as to why it is prioritizing the funding of a conference by a historically corrupt UN office. Mr. Chediek has been using the preparation for this conference to justify the continued retention of his close friends. BAPA+40, which aims to bring international actors together to solve development issues, in reality, is simply a front for Mr. Chediek’s personal ambitions.... Previously this, from whistleblowers: The pervasive misappropriation of global taxpayer dollars continues at one of the UN’s arguably most unreformable offices (and that's saying a lot, in the increasingly corrupt UN of Antonio Guterres). After its role in the John Ashe corruption scandal, Jorge Chediek who took the helm promised ambitious reforms by ordering an audit to restructure and clean the Office. The fact is that Mr. Chediek has done anything but reform the Office; in fact he has used the previous audit to shift blame for any problems under his management to his predecessor. Surrounding himself with sycophants who do his bidding he has carved out a niche for himself to advance his goal to the coveted ASG position. His tenure at the office thus far has been characterized with unnecessary and endless travel disguised as working towards a UN conference, which in fact is a lobbying campaign. As exclusively reported by Inner City Press, whose questions on Guterres' even larger travel bill to go 16 times to Lisbon go unanswered, he bill for Chediek's globetrotting is hefty. Since taking office in 2016, under Mr. Chediek, the travel expenses have more than doubled with $687,316.3 in 2018 compared to $314,340.3 in 2016.Individually, in 2016, Mr. Chediek took 19 trips to 15 countries. In 2017, he took 18 trips to 14 countries. And in 2018, he took 20 trips to 17 countries. For context, As Director of an office with a small $3.5 million annual budget, Jorge Chediek surpasses all other heads of UNDP offices to take the record of one of the most frequent travelers in UNDP, coming at 2nd place only after the UNDP Administrator.    

Mr. Chediek’s travels, which are subsidized by taxpayers’ money and characterized by frivolous self-promotion, are prominently highlighted via posts on personal and the Office’s Facebook using selfies and photo ops. Moreover, office resources are frequently used to curry favor with other UN officials and personal friends in mutually serving exchanges,which include the purchase of office equipment, and paying the salary of non-UN individuals. All this entirely unrelated to any actual UN mandated development work.     

As the rule goes, where there is financial misappropriation there is likely other abuses including the abuse of power and harassment. The environment in the Office of South-South Cooperation certainly fits this characterization. In violation of UNDP staff rule 1.2 relating to inappropriate religious imposition in the workplace, which stipulates that any harassment including based on religion and creed is prohibited, Mr. Chediek distributed religious paraphernalia in the office. The religious article in question is the medal of St. Benedict, which is known to be the “devil chasing medal” and used in exorcisms. The pendant is inscribed with the Latin phrase, which translates as “Begone Satan! Tempt me not with your vanities! What you offer me is evil! Drink the poison yourself!” Multiple staff discovered pendants hidden in their workstations leaving them frightened and confused because of the diabolical connotation.      

Mr. Chedieks’s penchant for the paranormal is well known among UN colleagues. This invasion of the professional workspace and disrespect for the personal beliefs of others is par for the course for Mr. Chediek’s general lack of respect for diversity, routine breaching of rules, and overall disregard for UN values. Moreover, it is inconceivable that UN employees are exposed to such harassment, with complete inaction from fellow frequent flyer Achim Steiner.... Back in November four hours before Chediek's "press conference" which drew three wan questions, Inner City Press asked Guterres and his two spokesmen questions in writing including "what is the SG's comment on / justification of, and action on, the travel of Jorge Chediek, Director of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation who spent over $81,300 in public funds on travel in 2017. Now in 2018 he has spent in excess of $82,500 on travel by November," see listed below. The list was sent to Guterres, his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed, Communicator Alison Smale and the spokesmen. But after the wan press conference, here is all lead Spokesman Stephane Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq sent on this: "Regarding question Nov 26-4, Jorge Chediek briefed the press today and his briefing is available at the following link." That is no justification or explanation at all. Today's UN is corrupt - it roughs up and bans those who ask how it is run, and caters to those who ask softball questions and write or publish little or nothing.  In fact, the trial in the next UN bribery case, that of China Energy Fund Committee, began the same day - Inner City Press story here - and still no audit from UNSG Guterres. The night before, this exclusive update on OSSC and Chediek: In the wake of Erik Solheim’s forced resignation from UNEP after revelations of travel no worse than those of Guterres himself, questions remain over the travel of Jorge Chediek, Director of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation who racked up over $81,300 in travel in 2017. Despite the previous revelations, Mr. Chediek continued his high traveling ways, having spent in excess of $82,500 on travel by November of this year. In total, his travels for the last two years amount to nearly $164,000 criss-crossing over 30 countries, with over a month left before the end of the year. This list, exclusively:

JORGE CHEDIEK, UN Office for South-South Cooperation
Benin $ 5,390.00 $ 509.04
Switzerland $ 2,450.00 $ 1,272.00
Thailand $ 3,140.00 $ 975.53
Turkey - Kazakhstan $ 4,500.00 $ 1,091.24
Kenya $ 4,740.00 $ 1,210.72
China $ 5,270.00 $ 673.40
Brazil $ 5,950.00 $ 505.76
Argentina $ 3,520.00 $ 1,230.00
China - India $ 9,045.10 $ 1,420.90
Argentina $ 4,053.00 $ 1,168.32
France $ 2,424.50 $ 1,313.68
Germany $ 2,315.00 $ 1,030.00
Brazil $ 2,672.10 $ 815.50
Turkey $ 2,722.00 $ 363.00
Bangladesh - Hong Kong $ 7,800.00 $ 1,771.48
Hawaii $ 2,848.00 $ 337.80
Egypt - France $ 3,976.90 $ 2,283.00
Brazil $ 2,747.60 $ 822.17
Argentina $ 5,053.70 $ 909.52
Portugal - Spain $ 3,832.01 $ 1,698.16
Cuba $ 342.70 $ 848.94
South Africa $ 7,424.50 $ 710.39
China $ 5,429.00 $ 1,307.21
France - Norway $ 1,912.71 $ 1,603.60
Thailand $ 6,326.00 $ 1,262.83
Egypt $ 5,650.00 $ 983.92
India $ 3,882.21 $ 763.68
Iran - UAE $ 4,815.13 $ 1,146.72
Switzerland - Italy $ 4,914.83 $ 1,311.96
Brazil $ 2,481.31
Poland 4,671.63
  It is worth noting that Solheim was the head of a UN agency while Chediek has managed to spend this sizeable sum merely as head of an Office. The public censure has not slowed his ambitions to campaign for a coveted ASG post in the least; he continues the campaigning disguised as preparations for the March 2019 BAPA+40 conference. Travel records backed up by his Facebook posts reveal that he is not one to cave in to any criticism on excessive spending.

This is egregious misappropriation of agency funds in the context of overall funding shortages at the United Nations Developmet Programme that allocated $3.5 million annually OSSC. As Mr. Chediek continues to rack up air miles, who in UNDP approves travel for the second most globetrotting UNDP official? What percentage of OSSC budget is dedicated to travel? Why is this information not publicly available? What are the development gains as a result of these baseless travels? Moreover, it again raises questions  over the prudence of cash strapped Argentina, now under austerity measures, to be spending millions on Mr. Chediek’s BAPA+40 conference.

These issues will be highlighted at the annual UNOSSC Global Expo, slated for the end of this week (November 28-30) in New York. This three day conference will again consist of events which for the most part only nominally contribute to development. In reality, it is just another self promoting, expensive, photo opportunity event for Mr. Chediek and his cronies, with the endorsement of Secretary General Guterres and UNDP Administrator Steiner. For transparency reasons, ICP is requesting details on the budget of the UNOSSC Global Expo, including travel costs and details of those sponsored to attend this jamboree in New York.

As recession looms in Argentina, its Central Bank raising its interest rates substantially in the past month and after the country announced it was turning to the IMF for a bailout, the government is set to spend millions of borrowed dollars on a wasteful UN conference on South-South Cooperation slated for March 2019 in Buenos Aires, to spend millions on an Office led by director Jorge Chediek whos aim OSSC sources say is to use this conference to advance to UN Assistant Secretary General level. His tenure at the Office thus far has involved a spate of self promotional travel while signing off on dubious Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) for projects that are only tangentially related to actual South-South development.
The MoU signings are often documented on the Facebook pageof Mr. Chediek, where he brags about the support from Guterres, who has refused to audit the next UN corruption scandal involving Patrick Ho the China Energy Fund Committee and had Inner City Press which reports on it roughed up and banned from the UN.

Its collaboration with Yingke Group, started initially when current UNOSSC Deputy Direcor Grace Wang, a Chinese national, worked at BPPS. When she commenced her role at UNOSSC, this relationship traveled with her. This Yingke Group -UNOSSC collaboration is covered in a 30 May 2018 article entitled UNOSSC delegation discusses South-South collaboration with Yingke Group where it claims this collaboration "is designed to be one pillar of the South-South Cooperation Poverty Eradication Facility,aiming to utilize tourism as an instrument for poverty alleviation through improving infrastructure, generating local employment, increasing local income, and developing local capacities." But what is behind these buzzwords?

The large number of Mo Us also attest to the frequency of wasteful travelby Mr. Chediek. While million of Argentinians are subjected to austerity, the Government of President Macri has decided to invest millions in the ambitions of one man, Mr. Chediek. In addition to the Chinese nepotism, Mr. Chediek seems to have his own questionable connections. Recently, OSSC sources complain, he hired an Argentinian national for a senior peace-building post and one whose brother is the founder and executive director of Brandling Latin America, a London based PR firm with royal connections through the company's senior director Lady Gabriella Windsor?

The Office continues to operate in highly questionable ways, giving rise to these questions: 'This Office of South South Cooperation is nested under UNDP, and provided with $25 million in core money from the UNDP budget. This budget is currently protected from any change in UNDP's financial situation. It should be noted that the budgets of the other UNDP-funded organizations, UN Volunteers and UNCDF - which had their strategic frameworks approved by this Board, and whose monitoring and evaluation frameworks are clear - are not protected. So... I) When will the Office's budget, monitoring and evaluation and results be reported to the [UNDP Executive] Board, and will this be for decision? 2) Will the Office start producing an annual report again, and when will this be available to the Board? 3) How is the Office working with UNDP's evaluation and audit offices? 4) Where will the Office's results be reported and collated? 5) How does the Office comply with UNDP's transparency requirements? We also note the Office's fundraising activities, and the very generous investments totaling $150 million this year by the Government of India.

   We'll have more on Guterres and this Office, in India and beyond. Amid record unemployment rates and long soup kitchen queues is BAPA+40 really a priority item for the Government of Argentina?  What is happening to the UN under Guterres, and his spokesman Dujarric who blocks and bans the Press? Watch this site.


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