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At UN Pension Fund Guterres Rep Dumping North American Stock in Conflict of Interest Press Still Banned

By Matthew Russell Lee, follow up

UN GATE, Oct 8 – At the UN of Secretary General Antonio Guterres, top jobs are doled out to unqualified people based on favoritism and corruption is covered up with confidentiality agreements. Such practices are the subject of extensive media coverage a mere three hour train ride south, but at the UN the Press which reports on them is roughed up by Guterres UN Security and has been banned from entering the UN for 462 days and counting. But the UN's self-regulating mechanisms have become more corrupted under Guterres.

  Now in October 2019, this report: at the pension fund's annual meeting in July, its chief investment officer, formally known as the Representative of the Secretary-General, presented a plan to shift some of the fund's investments from developed to emerging markets over a period of four years.  Reports are now emerging from his staff of bullying and intimidation attempts to make them sell the 3.32 billion dollars of developed market equities, not when the moment is right in that 4 year period, as is the usual practice, but to dump all that stock between now and the end of the year at whatever price they get for it.

That money would be used to buy stock in small companies in emerging markets, with some going to the RSG's home country of India. Some of the money would also buy shares in various funds managed by Global Infrastructure Partners, an entity that the RSG's former boss, Jim Kim left the World Bank suddenly to work for. 

Pension fund investment staff have complained that despite poor economic performance globally, developed market stocks are still performing the best. For the fund to have safe and strong returns, it should hold onto developed market stock for the time being. They have also complained that selling too much in one go lowers the sale price.  However, this assessment has fallen on deaf ears. On the 2nd of October, the RSG issued instructions to sell $310 million of North American stock in a single day.  It is not clear what is behind the RSG's precipitous actions, but investment experts at the pension fund are worried.

  This as Guterres complain about the UN's lack of funds, and gets his in-house scribes to help him with his message, while excluding critical Press and transparency. It is going down (hill).

  Back in August 2019 this report on the UN Pension Fund under Guterres, "the chaos, physical threats and intimidation that marked last month’s annual meeting of the Pension Fund’s Board at the UN compound in Nairobi. As your elected staff pension committee representatives and members of the Board, we would like to share with you a full account of the meeting.

Please note that while the Fund is actuarially in balance (0.1 percent unfunded), it faces significant governance and legal risks that can negatively impact its sustainability, putting it in a delicate position. Further, based on our own analysis we are unfortunately unable to assign credibility to the performance data published by the Fund.  

  The Fund is beset by governance and legal risks    

This year’s session was sadly marred by shouting, banging on tables, intimidatory comments, and a physical threat by the Chair of the Board to remove one of your representatives from the room “involuntarily”. The Board also collaborated in illegally suspending another of your representatives from the meeting. One of your representatives was illegally barred from voting. Two of your representatives were illegally prevented from taking part in segments of the session, despite the UN Appeals Tribunal having three times ruled such acts contrary to the Fund’s regulations. Taken together this prevented us from effectively defending your interests and created an atmosphere of physical insecurity within a UN facility. Additionally  the Board’s report to the General Assembly omits some of our interventions and misrepresents certain decisions, and is therefore not a true reflection of the Board’s proceedings, raising important issues of integrity.    

Underlying this behaviour is a fear by Board members from certain small specialized agencies that sensible and much-needed reforms from a General Assembly-backed governance review that we pushed for, would reduce their voting weights in line with their organizations’ declining population weights and financial contributions to the Fund. Currently the agencies represent one-third of participants but have retained two-thirds of the votes. Your representatives are therefore outvoted on issues that matter to you, such as legal compliance, promptness of payments and sustainability.    

It should be noted that as part of this governance review the Board rejected requests by the General Assembly, and for which we had made proposals, to assign greater voting weight to the UN, to make use of its executive committee, known as the Standing Committee, for dealing with urgent issues that require decisions between annual Board meetings, and to give retirees the right to elect their representatives to the Board. We nevertheless made sure our proposals were mentioned in the report. The Board did approve a proposal for terms of reference for Board members whereby they are now expected to have a knowledge of the Fund’s rules, which is welcome. However, we continue to have concerns about attempts to block transparency about the Board’s proceedings and decisions, and the intimidation we continue to face in communicating with you, our electors.    

Less than half of beneficiaries are paid on time, sometimes not at all    

We have been pushing hard for newly retiring staff and other beneficiaries to be paid on time. Two years ago we highlighted the fact that some had to wait more than nine months to receive their first pension payment. The Fund now claims mission accomplished and that 80 percent are paid within 15 business days. Our own analysis of the data shows the true percentage at around 40 percent, which is a long way off the mark. At the same time, logistical reasons mean that the much-vaunted 15 business day target can still mean a wait of two or more months. In this context you should know that many occupational pension funds, including in developing countries make the first pension payment as soon as and sometimes before a staff member retires.     Further, it would appear from our estimates that around 4,000 beneficiaries have not been paid at all, with the funds owed to them at risk of being forfeited as deadlines pass. The Fund terms these cases “unactionable” saying they haven’t received the correct paperwork. Besides the regrettable terminology, we haven’t seen evidence, nor has OIOS, that the Fund has tried to obtain that paperwork despite it receiving an annual $10.5 million payment from the United Nations  to do so. Proposals by staff unions to help find beneficiaries whose paperwork is missing, many in developing countries, have been met with indifference.    

To this end we made proposals to pay advances to newly retiring staff when not all paperwork has been received, and to help find former staff whose money is at risk of being forfeited. The Board regrettably rejected both proposals.  

  Running costs are on a sharp rise amidst an unwise restructuring    

The Board approved a budget that would see the Fund’s running costs per participant rise by 12 percent a year, albeit with no link to commensurate improvements in performance."

  No accountability? Sounds like the UN of Guterres and now of his new Global Communicator Melissa Fleming, who despite taking over the UN's propaganda and media accreditation function has now twice refused to response to formal requests for rules, due process, and re-acceditation to cover the upcoming General Assembly high level week like thousands of state media. More on this to follow - Inner City Press will not desist.

  Back on January 8 Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokeman Stephane Dujarric, who had on camera promised answers, "January 8-7: On the UN Pension Fund, on which your Office has been refusing to answer Press questions, what is the SG's response to the staff unions' letter AFTER the UNGA late December vote, that "Mr. Levins appeared to conspire with other Board members to manipulate the process. In the email (enclosed), the Chair stated his intention to exclude us “as it is clear what their view will be.”   Since then we have not heard anything from Mr. Levins.   In light of the above...  recommend that you do not accept the Mr. Levin’s proposal as a recommendation of the Board but instead request that the minutes of a special session of the Board or meeting of the Standing Committee be provided, in order to satisfy Article 7(a) of the Regulations.   We also recommend, given the departure of the current Acting CEO on 31 December, that existing delegations of authority by the Acting CEO be maintained so that staff of the Fund Secretariat in Geneva and New York may continue to certify and approve payments from 1 January and until a new Acting CEO is appointed. If necessary, an officer-in-charge can be designated from among the senior staff of the Fund Secretariat for the purpose of maintaining those delegations beyond the departure of the current Acting CEO'?"  Five days later, no answers at all. And so we publish below a letter to all Pension Fund staff, and this analysis of rot: the General Assembly just criticized the Fund for not acting with integrity and not respecting the regulations it established for the fund. It has been discovered that Sergio Arvizu has been taking money out of the fund without authorization but with the help of his former deputy Paul Dooley, whom Inner City Press has previously reported on before being roughed up and banned under Guterres.  Dooley signed off a generous disability pension for Arvizu without putting it for review to the UNSPC as legally required - we can only assume that there is something to hide and Arvizu wants an income before he reaches his actual retirement age. Arvizu basically left the fund in a pique after not getting the five year extension he wanted and now ordinary staff must pick up the bill while pension fund staff are being told to pay out a pension they know is illegal. But as the new head of the fund, who herself was appointed without the legally required board decision, has said, rules are only guidelines.

Dear Colleagues,     Today we had a courtesy meeting with the newActing CEO, Janice Dunn Lee, in our capacity as staff representatives for New York and Geneva.     During the meeting, which was of an introductory nature, we covered the following:  A recent history of theFund including attempts to remove it from the UN. The importance for theFund secretariat to return to being a rules-based organization that would return it to serenity after the difficulties of the past. Pension benefit administration is essentially a rules-based exercise. To this end we noted that the fact that the former CEO’s disability entitlement was not reviewed by the UNSPC meant unfair pressure would be placed on fund staff as they would be asked to calculate and make payments for a pension that was not legally authorized - in effect becoming complicit in that decision. The need to depoliticize the secretariat so that it would not be seen to be taking sides in Board disputes, as this called into question the secretariat’s impartiality, impacted the Board’s respect for the secretariat and had a broader demoralizing effect on staff. The need to restore the executive office and its staff in line with the OIOS recommendations and GA resolution. We added that duplicating the executive office was using GTA funding that could be consolidated and used to finance staff working in other areas where there may be priorities. Ms. Dunn Lee promised to consider our points going forward. She commented that rules acted as guidelines and sometimes needed to be interpreted flexibly. It was also important to ensure that staff are a good fit for the pension fund. She added that she would demand accountability from her staff.     As this was an introductory meeting aimed more at values and vision, it was agreed that quarterly staff-management meetings would be set up in line with ST/SGB/274 (

Last week Inner City Press published and asked Guterres and his spokesman without answer about about the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund, and the letter Guterres - who has taken to refusing Inner City Press questions despite a promise to the contrary by his USG DPI Alison Smale - has gotten from unions, after even UN OIOS issued a devastating audit of the Pension Fund, see below. With Guterres refusing basic questions and having left town before the UN Budget Committee and General Assembly votes, they have passed a Pension Fund resolution including Notes the current dual role of the Chief Executive Officer and Secretary of theBoard; and decides to replace the existing post by two distinct and independent positions as“Pension Benefits Administrator” and “Secretary of the Board” no later than January 2020;
14. Notes that the Board established a working group, which should adhere to the
Tripartite Structure of the Board, with the latter considering the issues of participation, rotation andequitable representation on the Board in fulfilling the mandate of the working group in order toreview the following elements:
(a) The terms of reference, and self-evaluation methodology of Boardmembers;
(b) The composition and size of the Board, including the role of retiree
representatives and modalities to directly elect retiree representatives to
the Board;
(c) Allocation of seats on the Pension Board;
(d) Implementation of a review and rotation scheme for the adjustment of the composition of the Pension Board on a regular basis, to allow eligible member organizations to share the rotating seats in a fair and equitable
(e) Including a regular review mechanism for the adjustment of the composition of the Pension Board;
(f) The usage of the Standing Committee;
(g) The need for the Assets and Liability Monitoring Committee;
15. Requests the Board to submit the key findings of this review to the General
Assembly at the main part of its seventy-fourth session;
16. Urges the Pension Board to ensure timely and proper succession planning for the positions of Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Chief Executive Officer to allow adequate time
for their competitive selection based on pre-established procedures that ensures integrity and fairness." Still silence from absentee SG Guterres including on his conflicts of interest, reported here, asked about here. With no answers by Guterres' spokesmen to Inner City Press' written questions in 2019, here's from a letter sent to him and his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed after the Fifth Committee and UNGA vote: "Dear Secretary-General... On 23 December the General Assembly adopted a resolution on the Pension Fund. It supported the OIOS audit of the Fund’s governance, which had been strongly critical of the Board’s way of working. The resolution further demanded "unfaltering accountability" from the Fund's Board members and asserted the General Assembly’s "existing prerogative…on matters pertaining to the Fund". In relation to the current matter it called for "integrity and fairness" in selection processes.   On 24 December a leaked email was published in the media in which the Mr. Levins appeared to conspire with other Board members to manipulate the process. In the email (enclosed), the Chair stated his intention to exclude us “as it is clear what their view will be.”   Since then we have not heard anything from Mr. Levins.   In light of the above, we maintain our belief, for the reasons below, that the requirements of of the Fund’s Regulations, as decided by the General Assembly have not been met. For memory Article 7(a) states that “The Chief Executive Officer of the Fund and a Deputy shall be appointed by the Secretary-General on the recommendation of the Board.”   We note that any decision of the Board, of which a recommendation is one, needs to be made legally, either in a Board session or special session, or in a meeting of the Standing Committee. There is no precedent for decisions being made otherwise.   The Chair of the 65th session hasn’t provided the Board with the possibility to consider the serious concerns raised about the candidate by Succession Planning Committee before an informed decision is taken. The Committee’s own assessment is that the candidate lacks necessary knowledge and needs additional assistance to function well. Board members have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the Fund for the sake of all stakeholders. This includes asking the necessary questions about the information available, obtaining satisfactory answers and making informed decisions. Our participants expect this as do the General Assembly and OIOS.   Seeking “yes” or “no” emails in such a perfunctory exercise that lies outside the rules cannot replace such a requirements and raises questions as to how a discussion can be conducted (as is required in session for many less important matters), how questions are answered, how proposals are modified if necessary, how consensus is sought if possible, how different positions are registered, how presences are noted, how absences are distinguished from abstentions, and therefore under which conditions alternates can vote. It should be noted, possibly for the same reasons, that the General Assembly, the Board’s parent body, does not conduct its own sessions by email and established the Standing Committee of the Board for the very purpose of reaching formal decisions between sessions. Indeed in the leaked message, the Board Chair admits that his asking for “yes” or “no” emails is “a rather messy arrangement”.   There is a clear risk that the UN Appeals Tribunal will uphold the appeal against the process given its past support for adherence to the Fund’s Regulations. Such a decision would put at risk all decisions and payments made by an incorrectly appointed Acting CEO, and would put the Fund in a real crisis.   The General Assembly has entrusted important parts of the oversight and operation of the Fund to you and to the Board with the understanding that we follow the Regulations it has set. Recent resolutions on the Pension Fund have expressed increasing concern with regards to how that trust has been managed. That trust should not be taken for granted and we are very worried that should Regulations continue to be broken, the General Assembly will seek alternative methods to operate the Fund. We hope you will agree that this situation is best avoided and that the General Assembly’s trust remains vital at a time that its support is required for other major reforms.   We recognise the urgency of the situation but we believe it could have been entirely avoided. Calls have been made since October for a special session of the Board or meeting of the Standing Committee to ensure compliance with the Regulations. Either could have been convened by the respective chairs at any time.   To this end we recommend that you do not accept the Mr. Levin’s proposal as a recommendation of the Board but instead request that the minutes of a special session of the Board or meeting of the Standing Committee be provided, in order to satisfy Article 7(a) of the Regulations.   We also recommend, given the departure of the current Acting CEO on 31 December, that existing delegations of authority by the Acting CEO be maintained so that staff of the Fund Secretariat in Geneva and New York may continue to certify and approve payments from 1 January and until a new Acting CEO is appointed. If necessary, an officer-in-charge can be designated from among the senior staff of the Fund Secretariat for the purpose of maintaining those delegations beyond the departure of the current Acting CEO."
On the morning of December 18, Inner City Press in writing asked Guterres and his spokesman Stephane Dujarric, "December 18-4: Please immediately confirm the SG's receipt of, and state the SG's action on, the Dec 14 letter from staff unions for more transparency in choosing the next CEO of the UNJSPF Pension Fund. I reiterate Inner City Press' unanswered question on transparency in the replacement of Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore." Five hours later at close of UN business, no answer to this question or any other from Inner City Press. The UN of Guterres and Dujarric is corrupt. Here's the letter: "Friday 14 December 2018
Dear Secretary-General,
As you may be aware, the current CEO of the Pension Fund will retire on disability at the start of 2019.
In anticipation, the Pension Board established the Succession Planning Committee at its 65th session in order to identify a candidate for Acting CEO pending the search for a full replacement.
At the time the Board asked that the Succession Planning Committee’s proposal be sent directly to you by the Bureau (an entity that is not explained in the Fund Regulations and Rules and whose existence has also been questioned by OIOS on legal grounds). However, as you will be aware, the Fund’s Regulations, as promulgated by the General Assembly, actually require that the Board first agree that proposal, and then in turn submit it to you as its recommendation.
Article 7(a) The Chief Executive Officer of the Fund and a Deputy shall be appointed by the Secretary-General on the recommendation of the Board.
The rationale for Article 7 is that the Board, rather than the Succession Planning Committee, is ultimately responsible for the performance of the Fund’s senior leadership.
A number of Board members have noticed this discrepancy with the Regulations and have officially requested, since November, that the Board hold either a special session to review and officially approve the proposal of the Succession Planning Committee, or alternatively for reasons of expediency and cost, call a meeting of the Standing Committee, which in between Board sessions, can legally do the same.
Mr. Antonio Guterres Secretary-General United Nations
We agree with this request and to this end have also asked both the Chair of the Board, Mr John Levins, and Chair of the Standing Committee to convene a meeting in a timely manner. We regret that to-date, these requests have not been answered, and at this stage the majority of the Board has no idea who is under consideration nor who the Succession Planning Committee might propose; in keeping with usual Board practice, the Committee’s members have been sworn to secrecy.
In order to ensure compliance with the Fund’s Regulations and uphold the values of transparency and accountability, we therefore ask that any proposal submitted to you by the Bureau, be returned with a request that approval first be sought by either the Board or Standing Committee.
At a time when OIOS has drawn attention to the repeated failures by the Pension Fund to follow its own Regulations and at a time when the Board’s compliance with the Regulations is under close scrutiny by the General Assembly, we urge you to ensure that these same Regulations be followed. It is essential that the Acting CEO you appoint is one that is known by the Board and one that enjoys the Board’s full confidence and support. Only in this manner can the Acting CEO also enjoy the confidence of the General Assembly and Fund participants and can the appointment process be considered clean." Will Guterres and is spokesman answer when Inner City Press asks in writing about it on December 18? The Pension Fund Board met in Rome from July 26 to August 3. (The Rome-based publication Italian Insider has covered Guterres' censorship of Inner City Press, here, but those in charge of the UN Pension Funds' billions seems quite pleased or acquiescent to it. Guterres is overseeing and allowing UN litigation against Italian Insider.) On the Pension Fund corruption and cover up front, a recent audit, of the type Guterres has refused to start about the CEFC UN bribery scandal, showed that the Fund’s management used a $400,000 contract with a "Big Four consulting firm" - Inner City Press exclusively identified it as PWC before being roughed up and ousted from Guterres' UN -- to then procure an additional $1.8 million of unrelated services, which Inner City Press reported to be outside UN procurement rules. As the $1.8 million had not been subject to competitive bidding, the consulting firm billed extensively on hours for senior partners. But in Rome, this audit was not shared with UN Pension Board members. The Board’s audit committee, which was aware of the audits, chose not to disclose its views on these audits. The Audit Committee also withheld from the Board that the Fund’s management had not accepted recommendations from the Office of Internal Oversight Services, to which Inner City Press has repeatedly written throughout this summer of censorship, that would prevent such events from happening again. Those impacted say that audit committee members were required to sign a confidentiality agreement - echoes from 200 miles south.

   One recommendation coming out of the Rome UN Pension Board meeting is to give the UNJSPF Deputy CEO job to an under-qualified French candidate, Thibaud Beroud. The Deputy CEO post is important: the CEO of the Pension Fund has been out on extended sick leave, like Heidi Mendoza the head of OIOS. Beroud has worked at the French Senate's 3000 member pension fund for nine years -- but even the UN's job notice for the Deputy CEO position at the UNJSPF, with 200,000 members, requires a full 15 years of such experience. (Inner City Press is publishing the job notice and Beroud's French Linked in resume on Patreon, here.) But this is how the UN works, under Guterres. His Jan Beagle, who under the changes Guterres managed to get through the UN Budget Committee by remaining silent on killings by Committee Chair Tommo Monthe's Cameroon, will be responsible for see that (or if) Human Resources rules are followed, has been made aware of the problems but it is UNclear what she is doing about it. Ultimately as with the expanding UN sexual abuse and harassment scandals, the rot is due to Guterres, and his response has been... censorship.

Because the initial pretext of Guterres and his "Global Communication" ex-NYT bureau chief Alison Smale to rough up and ban Inner City Press, that it was prohibited from covering the UN Budget Committee meetings as it has for ten years, fell apart, Guterres' spokesman Farhan Haq told Fox News: “there have been a number of allegations from fellow journalists that Lee has harassed them over the years. 'A lot of journalists have not just been harassed but threatened by him and that’s a problem,' Haq said.”

   That last line is extraordinary. Without identifying a single one of these "lot of journalists," Haq declares their anonymous allegations to be true: "HAVE not just been harassed but threatened me him." This stands in contrast to the UN not accepting - in the case of Alison Smale and Stephane Dujarric, trying to not even acknowledge receiving - Inner City Press' written, on the record allegations complete with exhibits. It's called favoritism, and censorship.

  This same Farhan Haq recently answered one of Inner City Press' written questions, about why Guterres had taken no action on its documented exclusive May 24 report for which it received threats (and subsequent letter to Guterres and Smale) that through presumptive nepotism, management of the UN Security Council's website had been given to John van Rosendaal, the photographer husband of Kyoko Shiotani, the chief of staff of Guterres' Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, previously US Deputy Ambassador to the UN under Susan Rice and Samantha Power. Haq responded, "If there are allegations of misconduct they should be taken to the internal oversight offices and mechanisms. Unfounded allegations do not constitute a formal complaint." So how does Haq for the UN now deem anonymous allegations against Inner City Press not only as formal complaints, and as true?

  How corrupt has Guterres' UN become? Even the Security Council's website is a prize to quietly be given to a top official's spouse, with no competition or transparency. In May prior to being banned from the UN in July by Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Inner City Press was exclusively informed by whistleblowers that Department of Political Affairs chief of staff Kyoko Shiotani's husband John van Rosendaal has been brought in to run the Council's website, as if the UN and its Security Council were a small business suffused in nepotism. After its reporting, Inner City Press was approached by a senior UN person and told to drop the story, or else. Then, in the middle of a speech by Guterres on June 22, Inner City Press was pushed out of the UN by UN Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbins and four UN Emergency Response Unit officers who, equipped with automatic weapons, refused to give their names. On July 3, after a written alert by Inner City Press to Guterres and his team including about "irregularities in even how the UNSC's website is run," a more violent ouster and 23 day ban since. In the interim, more information from sources about the UN website corruption: "Further to your article, let me inform you that van Rosendaal was hired at a P5 level (something that takes a lifetime for career UN staff to accomplish). And that he won't be even making the web site, that will be done by another department, he will just show up to meetings from time to time. He has absolutely no expertise in design or development of web sites and will not make any contribution to the actual web site. His contract was again extended, and will probably get another extension after the new year. Similar sites done by DPI in the past were done with internal resources, no extra cost and usually by lower P level staff or G level staff. In addition to this he is asking for additional money to hire external contractors that are suppose to do some of the actual work." Inner City Press, from the bus stop in front of the UN Delegates Entrance where is it working since banned by Guterres, asked a follow up question, as it cannot due to UN Spokespeople given Guterres ban: "what has USG Rosemary DiCarlo (or anyone else) done about this, since it was exposed?" The reply: "Nothing much was changed. I believe only you reported it and they don't consider that as much negative exposure. So pretty much business as usual. This project is financially supported by the Dutch government and John is Dutch so... The total cost with his P5, the other offices involved and external contractors that John is hiring could reach probably close to half million dollars" or, we're told, double that. So it was simple for Guterres' (and it seems DiCarlo's) UN: do nothing about the blatant corruption, just rough up and ban the Press which alone reported on it. Finally on July 30, with Inner City Press still banned from the UN by Guterres for the 27th day in a row, Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq after the noon briefing Inner City Press could not attend emailed this, which we publish in full: "If there are allegations of misconduct they should be taken to the internal oversight offices and mechanisms. Unfounded allegations do not constitute a formal complaint. Mr. Van Rosendaal was hired via proper channels in accordance with standard procedures. He is fully qualified for the job. The Security Council website has not been “given” to anybody. Mr. Van Rosendaal is the project manager for SCAD. Other UN offices are also involved in this project.  We will leave it up to the Member State to announce its involvement, but Mr. Van Rosendaal’s position is outside the budget provided by the Member State. His nationality had nothing to do with his hiring." So it seems that the information provided to Guterres and his team on July 25 was not even passed on by him or his team to OIOS. We'll have more on this OIOS - watch this site.


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