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In UN Scandal News, Yan Pleads,  ICP Asks of Audits, South-South in March

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 21 -- Ban Ki-moon's tenure as UN Secretary General became embroiled in one scandal after another in 2015 -- but at his “year-end” press conference he refused to answer a Press question directly on it. Video here and embedded below. Vine here. On January 5, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman, below. On January 14, at Ban's stakeout, Inner City Press was again denied a question.

Now a second defendant in the scandal, Sheri Yan, has entered a guilty plea. She was -- and is -- the CEO of the the Global Sustainability Foundation which reportedly funneled bribes at the UN, and at the founding of which some very close to Ban, including his wife and his representative on Sri Lanka and now Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar.

 On January 21, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:  Now the second of the people indicted in the John Ashe case for bribery in connection with obtaining, it seems, UN documents about that conference centre has pled guilty, Sheri Yan, the CEO of the Global Sustainability Foundation.  This is now somebody higher up in the group, and the founding of the organization took place on the 4th Floor with one of the senior advisers of the Secretary-General very much present.  What does — what does the UN think about the development of the case?  Have there been contacts with the Secretariat?  What's the status of the audit of the UN's interactions with Global Sustainability Foundation and Sun Kian Ip Group?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, the audit by the Office of Internal Oversight Services is continuing.  I don't have anything really to say on it until it's completed.  As you know, we've done also a separate audit that's being finalized by the Office of South-South Cooperation, and we expect that that audit will be public sometime in March.  Beyond that, I wouldn't have any comment on the latest proceedings.  We certainly hope that all the facts are… come out as a result of this particular judicial process.


  Yan's guilty plea, follows that of Heidi Piao, Yan's underling at GSF. So they are moving up the chain. Will it go high enough up? Answers are needed.

On January 15, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press: yesterday one of the individuals arrested in the UN corruption cases involving, allegedly, John Ashe and Ng Lap Seng, Heidi Piao has pled guilty and has said she will cooperate, so this seems to… as before, you've always said, it's just an allegation.  Seems like if somebody pleads guilty and is going to serve time, there's probably something to the allegation.  What does the Secretary-General… I noticed in his speech about his priorities there was not a mention of UN reforms or trying to look into this.  Does he see this as more serious now?

Spokesman:  I think we've always taken these allegations seriously, and I wouldn't want anybody to think otherwise.  The audit that he ordered by OIOS is ongoing.  It should be wrapped up, I believe, at some point next month.  I think UNDP is also in the final stage of reviewing their audit.  As we've said, we will also be putting forward some recommendations to the President of the General Assembly's Office to ensure that there is greater transparency and efficiencies in how both the Secretariat and, obviously, the PGA's office is run.

  Inner City Press asked asked current PGA Mogens Lykketoft about the guilty plea, video here.

  Indicted businessman Ng Lap Seng, charged with paying bribes to buy a document from Ban's Secretariat for a UN conference center in Macau, has withdrawn his December 10 request for a speedy trial, and says he may ask to sever his trial from that of former UN President of the General Assembly John Ashe.

Will this extend his UN corruption case past the tenure of Ban Ki-moon? Or impact the continue reports of Ban as a player in South Korea's upcoming Presidential race?

 On January 5, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, from the transcript:

Inner City Press: I would assume that you’ve seen that the businessman Ng Lap Seng, who stands to be put on trial for having, among other things, purchased documents from the Secretariat, is the way I’d phrase it, through the John Ashe case, has asked to have his case severed and delayed.  He’s no longer asking for a speedy trial.  I wanted to know if you have any comment and if the UN Secretariat had… or its UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) office of South-South Cooperation have been contacted or are cooperating in any way with these various trials.

Spokesman:  No, I’m not aware of any contacts.  We can ask the South-South office.

Inner City Press:  And I guess… it was said, when this first came up, that the director of the South-South office was new and that’s why he never came forward to… to talk about what these serious charges mean for his office.  Is he now less new?  Can he come forward?

Spokesman:  I’m sure he’s less new by the day; each day and every day we get older and we get less new.  That’s the laws of physics and biology, which we can’t fight.  You’re welcome to get in touch with his office.

Inner City Press:  I have.  I want to emphasize to you that a simple document, a supposedly public document, they signed with Dominica has yet to be released, so…

Spokesman:  Okay.

Okay what? 

The former President of the General Assembly John Ashe and four others have been indicted, Ashe for buying documents from Ban's UN Secretariat.

Ban's envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon was exposed by leaks as having taken instructions and then a job from the United Arab Emirates.

And Ban's head of UN Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, is listed in UN Dispute Tribunal documents as having tried to cover up child rapes in Central African Republic by peacekeepers from his native France.

  Inner City Press, which Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric did not call on despite calling two separate times on the same UN Correspondents Association scribe, asked audibly, “Do you have any update on the John Ashe indictment? Bernardino Leon? These were major developments this year.” Vine here.

  But Ban refused to answer the question. He walked out of the briefing room, shaking hands scribes. The press conference began with Dujarric setting aside the first question for the head of UNCA, who thanked Ban for attending an event on Wall Street for which UNCA charged $6,000 to sit with Ban. This is the UN Corruption Association.

  A question on or to cover up the sexual abuse scandal was arranged, with Agence France Presse congratulating Ban for this response to the sexual abuse scandal. (Senegalese Babacar Gaye was urged to resign, Ladsous who on camera linked the rapes to “R&R," video here, remains in place.)

Ban read out a wan answer on Burundi; his deputy spokeperson refused an Inner City Press question on Burundi at the previous day's noon briefing.  We'll have more on this.

Ban once promised monthly press conference but his last one was three months before, then nine months before that. On September 16 with the UN being less than successful in mediating in Yemen and Libya, Syria and South Sudan, accused of rapes in Central African Republic and killing 8,000 in Haiti with cholera (after 40,000 died in Sri Lanka with little response from the UN), Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was asked, What is your legacy?

  That question, nor none of the other 11 Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric selected, did not refer to the rape scandal, much less deadly cholera or the Sri Lanka report released earlier in the day in Geneva, after months of delay and supposed concern by Ban.

  Inner City Press asked, before the press conference ended and then again before Ban left the room, “Anything on Sri Lanka?” But there was nothing. Ban's spokesman Dujarric didn't even allow Inner City Press to put a question to UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, who covered up rapes in DR Congo, Darfur and now CAR.

  Most recently, Ladsous linked rapes to a lack of “R&R,” rest and relaxation, video here.

Dujarric himself cut off Inner City Press questions on what Ladsous said, and declined to answer on Reddit in an “Ask Me Anything.” (He didn't say he's ANSWER everything, one wag pointed out.)

  But even beyond the scandals, Ban did not in his opening statement mention Somalia, or CAR, or Darfur; none of the questions selected by Dujarric was about Africa. (One wire points out Africa was part of a UN-at-70 question; noted.)

    Inner City Press also tried to ask about Burundi -- nothing - and South Sudan, on which we are preparing a story.

  It was Voice of America with the “What is your legacy” question. Ban said he'd answer next year. Inner City Press might answer sooner. Watch this site.


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