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As ICP Asks Ban Disclosed on Nephew, KPMG Not PWC, Colliers Issues Mount

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 27 -- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has left his native South Korea after five days and headed to Vietnam while Press questions remain unanswered by the UN about his links to the Vietnam related scandal surrounding the suicide of South Korean businessman Sung Wan-jong, and his own nephew Joo-hyun "Dennis" Bahn. Inner City Press asked the UN on May 15, video here.

 After Ban's deputy spokesperson on May 20 told Inner City Press he would get a simple list of UN contracts of Colliers International where Ban's nephew works, video here, he did not return with it on May 21. But on May 22 he had a read out, and Inner City Press had and has more questions. Video here.

  On May 22 when Inner City Press asked if Ban had disclosed that this nephew works for Colliers which rents to and for the UN, Haq said " I believe the disclosure is reviewed, like I said, by an outside company.  I… all I can attest to is what's on the website, and you can see that for yourself."

 On May 27, Inner City Press asked Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: I’m sorry, it's not to play gotcha, but I'm quite interested in it, the public financial disclosure, which was a major plank of the Secretary-General, okay, yesterday I asked you if [PricewaterhouseCoopers] is still doing it, and it seems like it's not, because I looked at procurement, and KPMG has the contract to do it.

Spokesman:  Okay.  Then I will check.

Inner City Press: that’s not the main point.  That's not the main problem.  The problem I have is, even directly on the Secretary-General's main website, it says financial disclosure and it says most recent report, it’s of 2011, so I guess I don't… without… has… is something changed with the programme?  Is this as central to the UN's…?  It also came up on the Yemen envoy, has he filed?  He's not listed…

Spokesman:  No one said that he hadn't filed.  The Yemen envoy has fulfilled all the requirements in terms of financial disclosure.  As to the other questions, I can check.  I'm not aware.

Inner City Press:  But I… because this came up while you were away.  My question is, there's an option of making public financial disclosure, the disclosure of which is simply marking a box and saying, I don't want to disclose.  But, he didn't do that.  He's not listed in the list.  If you look at the current list of UN [Special Representatives of the Secretary-General], he’s not there…

Spokesman:  He's done everything that he is supposed to do.  Sir.

  But then, where's his name? Why is Ban's "most recent" form from 2011? We'll have more on this.

On May 26, having heard of developments regarding Ban's nephew, Inner City Press asked Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric about this, video here:

Inner City Press: And on this disclosure question, last week there was a lot of roundabout, so I want to ask a clear-cut question.  It seems to be undisputed that the nephew of the Secretary-General works with Colliers International, which had contracts with the UN and still either owns and manages the FF building, which is rented by UNDP [United Nations Development Programme].  So, my question was just, there a UN disclosure… financial disclosures form?  It's not in the public one.  I was told to check, and I did.  Is there a non-public… the non-public financial form what used to be filed with PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), and I don't know if it still is, that deals with this issue of relatives being with a company that does business with the UN?

Spokesman:  I think the Secretary-General's fulfilled everything that he's been asked to do on the financial disclosure form, and I think, as he said very clearly in Seoul, he has no knowledge and no business and no relationship to what his… to what business his nephew may or may not have.  And there's really… I mean, there's nothing for me to add on that.

Inner City Press:  The only thing… I'm not asking about the project on Viet Nam.  I'm not asking about that whole story line.  What [inaudible] something what's sort of a much smaller, but more concrete thing that emerged is this idea that one would assume that a financial disclosure system of the UN would include whether there are relatives of the official that are with the company doing business with the UN.  That's the only side I'm asking about.  What you said doesn't really answer that.  One, is PwC still in charge of the ethics disclosures?

Spokesman:  Yes, I believe they are.

Inner City Press:  Okay.  And is… I mean, I guess are you willing to look at that form and say whether Colliers International in that connection is listed or is it going to be listed in the future…?

Spokesman:  You know, I think one has to… again, I think the Secretary-General fulfils everything he's been asked to do and more and has been… led by example on that front.  I think in more general terms, there's only so much control one has over a family member.  The Secretary-General has absolutely no knowledge of his nephew's business and has no control over it, and I think has spoken eloquently on the issue in his press conference in Seoul.

  We'll have more on that. But on Ban's UN website, under "Current disclosure" the year is 2011, discloses only this:

Apartment, Seoul, Republic of Korea 
Land Residential (Lot), Seoul, Republic of Korea
CD Account, Chase Bank, USA, joint  with spouse
Checking Account, Chase Bank, USA, joint  with spouse 
Deposit Account, Kookmin Bank, Republic of Korea 
Equity Account, Kookmin Bank, Republic of Korea 
Savings Account, Chase Bank, USA, joint with spouse
Two (2) Savings Deposit Accounts, Kookmin Bank, Republic of Korea 

  While is his more than subsequently disclosed, it does not list Ban's nephew working with Colliers which rents to and for the UN. Does any subsequent disclosure? Inner City Press asked Dujarric on May 26, its dozenth question in a row on this.

 Meanwhile an aggregation piece on Ban's five day trip and ambitions mentions his nephew, and the name Colliers - but NOT that Colliers rents to and for the UN. Some call it, softball behind a paywall. Perhaps more is coming.

  Back on May 22, Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq said the following, about the company where Ban's nephew works:

"I was asked a few days ago about whether the United Nations has rented office space through the Colliers company.  That’s actually a difficult question, in turns out, because Colliers International NY LLC is a company whose name has changed several times over the years.  Although it became known by that name in 2010, it also used to be called GVA Williams many years ago.

"The UN had a contract with GVA Williams from the 15th of June 2007 to 15th of February 2013.  By then company had changed its name to Colliers International NY LLC and it was for "real estate consultancy and brokerage services".

"Colliers, in the name of Colliers Tri-State Management LLC, is now the owner and landlord for the FF Building, although the lease to the UN is enacted via a number of leases for sub-“lots” between the UN and a subsidiary company called “304 E.45th LLC”.  UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) also rents some “lots” in the FF building.

"When the UN first rented space in the FF building, it was with GVA Williams.  Apart from the leases for the FF building, the UN has no other contracts with Colliers International NY LLC."

  When allowed, Inner City Press began with these few questions (there will be more)

Inner City Press: thanks a lot for this detailed answer on Colliers and its predecessor.  So this is something that I wanted to ask.  It has to do with, since it is public record that the nephew of the Secretary-General works for the company, and I understand it's your position that there's no connection between these contracts and that.  I did want to know whether the disclosures, public or confidential within the UN of high officials, contain any disclosures of the employment or business interests of close relatives so that at least they can be known and checked.  This is my question.

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  The procurement process goes through a process that is independent of other officials at the UN.  There's a very clear process that… by which procurement works.  And… and we have actually talked about this at length many times in the past, but it is unrelated.

Inner City Press:  Right.

Deputy Spokesman:  Both to senior officials, but to any of their family members…

Inner City Press:  But what I'm asking about is the disclosure process in the UN.  I understand there's two forms of disclosure.  There's mandatory internal disclosure that's not made public, and there's a voluntary public financial disclosure.  What I'm asking is whether the internal confidential but to the UN, to the ethics office, disclosure of high officials involves business interests of close relatives that do business with the UN.  That's just a factual question.

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't really… I think that there's an implicit assumption in your question which I don't share.

Inner City Press:  I'm not assuming anything.  It's just a question.

Deputy Spokesman:  The safeguards in the procurement process are built in to keep it separate from other officials.

Inner City Press:  But I'm asking about the disclosure process, not the procurement process, just a question about what the UN disclosure process is.  It's not about what my assumption of my question.

Deputy Spokesman:  Disclosure to whom?

Inner City Press:  There are two disclosures… high officials file with the UN detailed supposedly… I haven't… well, I have seen them, but I'm not… the detailed disclosures, and then there's the public website which gives less information…

Deputy Spokesman:  There's…

Inner City Press:  Does the detailed one contain close relatives that do business with the UN… that’s the question.

Deputy Spokesman:  There is a series of financial disclosures where you detail your financial dealings as well as the dealings of your immediate family.  And that is disclosed… and that is disclosed to an outside party that reviews these… these financial statements.

Inner City Press:  And can I ask whether this one was disclosed?

Deputy Spokesman:  First of all, I believe the disclosure is reviewed, like I said, by an outside company.  I… all I can attest to is what's on the website, and you can see that for yourself.

   But there, Ban lists "Residential lot, Republic of Korea, Apartment, Republic of Korea, and CD account, Chase Bank, joint ownership, USA" -- nothing about his nephew working with a firm that rents to and for the UN.

  On May 21, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Haq:

Inner City Press:  I've seen the Secretary-General's nephew has given what's described as an exclusive interview with the South Korean newspaper the Mainil Business newspaper, and among other things he says that Sung Ju-Soo, the second son of Sung Wan-jong, the suicidal business leader, quote, “came to New York last March and asked me to seek help from the Secretary-General over the property sale”.  Then he says:  But I have never asked for his help regarding the sale.  But the newspaper then says the interview confirmed that the son Sung Wan-jong tried to lobby Ban Ki-moon for the deal.  This is what I want to know.  This now seems a little closer than just that the nephew said it; like, an individual from the company came to New York asked the nephew, can you raise it?  And in a written piece of paper, the nephew said it's been raised.  Now he said he's never spoken to the Secretary-General.  What is your response?  Is there some way we can get some response in English rather than simply to — to the South Korean newspaper?

Deputy Spokesman:  The response that you are looking for in English was given by the Secretary-General himself in a press conference in Seoul yesterday where he was asked about various situations and you'll have seen — and you even asked me a question about that press conference.  So I'm sure you've seen that transcript…

Question:  He asked to refrain from reporting on it.  [overlapping talking]

Deputy Spokesman:  No, that's not all he said.  He said quite a bit.  Look at his entire response and that is his response and that is the response we have.

  On May 19, Ban urged the media not to ask about, or report on, issues surrounding his nephew. Inner City Press has asked, and will continue to ask, what rules and safeguards apply for example to a company the Secretary General's nephew works with, Colliers International, doing business with the UN, as Colliers Vice Chairman brags. Here is the UN's transcription of Ban's May 19 answer in Seoul, and below.

  Inner City Press went to the May 19 UN noon briefing and asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq what Ban had meant, video here, and for how much business Colliers, where Ban's nephew works has done with the UN. Haq refused to provide the latter information, saying "Ask Colliers."

  Inner City Press has in the day since collected information, below. But first we note that Ban's spokesperson's office and Haq himself HAVE previously answered Inner City Press questions about particular UN contractors. For example, in April 2009 Haq answered Inner City Press about the Petrocelli Electric Company. So do they only not answer when a Ban relative is involved? What's the difference?

  For now, here's some of the business with the UN of Colliers International, where Ban Ki-moon's nephew Joo-hyun "Dennis" Bahn works:

220 East 42nd Street: "The United Nations Development Programme signed a 10-year, 42,931-square-foot lease covering the entire 20th, 21st, and 23rdfloors of 220 East 42nd Street, aka The News Building. Andy Roos of Colliers International acted on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme."

220 East 42nd Street:  "United Nations Women is setting up shop at 220 E. 42nd St. where it will lease 71,204 square feet on the 17th, 18th and 19th floors. Additionally a transition team will settle into 13,746 square feet on the 4th floor -- for a total of 84,950 square feet... The deal has been percolating since last year and was made possible because another UN agency moved out. The UN's broker, Andrew Roos of Colliers International, represented the United Nations Population Fund in a move out of the building to 605 Third Ave. last year."

605 Third Avenue: "In a 15-year, four-party deal, the United Nations Population Fund leased just under 131,000 square feet at 605 Third Ave. The turnkey space encompasses the fourth through sixth floors. The UN was represented by Andy Roos at Colliers International, who said the complicated transaction took 18 months to complete."

  In fact, the UN's "FF" building on 45th Street has a Colliers International sign on the front of it, facing the sidewalk. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's nephew works at this firm. The UN should answer about its Colliers contracts, but won't.
  By contrast on April 6, 2009, Ban's then spokesperson Michele Montas DID answer Inner City Press about a particular contractor, and on April 13, 2009, deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq told Inenr City Press that it had been given details about that contract - NOT being done here, about Ban's nephew.

From the UN's April 6, 2009 transcript:

Inner City Press:  I have a procurement question.  It’s become clear that, number one, the electrical contractor for the UN, Petrocelli Electric, the founder has been indicted in the Southern District of New York for bribery.  At the same time, the operator of UN Television, National Mobile Television Venue Services Group, is basically going bankrupt.  Everything is being sold and they’re trying to move their people into the basement area as a final refuge.  How can it be that these contracts were entered into with companies in one case being indicted, and in the other case going bankrupt?

Spokesperson Montas:  Well, in specific cases, when the contracts were entered, of course, there was no indictment and there were no suspicion that there were any wrongdoings.  In terms of the second contract, of course, we can look into this.  There are several companies going under and we cannot predict in advance which company will go under.  I can try to get more information for you from the Procurement Office, but, at this point, as I said, we cannot predict what will happen when we sign contracts....

Spokesperson:  Matthew, I just got your answer.  It was just brought to me.

The contract with the Petrocelli Electric Company covers overall electrical installations, operations, maintenance, alterations and major projects, and remains in place even though the UN has suspended the vendor from participating in any further procurement activity.  That’s what I have for you.  And we’re also aware of the financial difficulties faced by VSG’s parent company, NMT.  The Organization is dealing with the situation in consultation with the VSG management.  So I got your answer pretty fast for you.

  Then from the April 13, 2009, UN transcript:

Inner City Press: last week I’d asked about this contract with Petrocelli Electric that the UN has, in light of the indictment of the founder of the company.  Over the weekend The New York Times reported that the FBI says that the founder is connected or has associations with the Genovese crime family.  So what I’m wondering is now given... if you accept that report is true in The New York Times, what is the UN going to do about these contracts?

Associate Spokesperson Haq:  Well, Michčle told you what we’re doing in terms of that, and what she said last week hasn’t changed.

Question:  So the current contract is going to continue?  How long does the current contract run?

Associate Spokesperson:  Right now, they’re suspended from the list of vendors, but we do have, of course, our current facility needs.  So we have an existing contract.  But I believe she mentioned to you the suspension last week and...

Question:  For future business.  I just want to know how much the current business is and whether this new report makes any changes.

Associate Spokesperson:  I think she mentioned to you what the details of that contract were.  But I can just re-submit that over to you if you don’t have those details.

Question:  I don’t think she said either length or dollar value or any of the details.

Associate Spokesperson:  No, I think she mentioned what the services are.  So, I’ll get that over to you.

Now from the UN's May 19, 2015 transcript:

Inner City Press: I want to ask two press freedom questions.  One is on Burundi — there are these reports that the media or particularly foreign correspondents are not being allowed into this neighbourhood and cameras taken by the police.  I want to know whether Mr. Djinnit is aware of what, what the UN thinks of that.  And I wanted to ask, maybe if you can clarify or amplify.  I saw the Q&A the Secretary-General did in South Korea, and he said, "I have seen reports having to do with my nephew.  While I'm fulfilling… whether true or not, while I'm fulfilling my duties now as Secretary-General, while such unnecessary incorrect allegations or rumours cause inconvenience to my work as Secretary-General, so I'd like to ask you to refrain from doing that."  So, because of the… like, what is he saying?  Is he saying refrain from asking questions, refrain from…?

Deputy Spokesman:  No.  First of all, that's an abbreviation of the transcript.  I'll refer you to the full transcript.

Inner City Press:  I looked… okay.

Deputy Spokesman:  He makes a denial of any involvement in this issue.  But, his basic point is that he will go about his own work.  These questions really don't apply to him or his activities.

Inner City Press:  But, who… my question is this.  Who is he asking to refrain from doing what?  That's a direct quote from what he said.

Deputy Spokesman:  He's not making an order to anyone in the press.  It's very clear, and it's particularly clear in the context if you look at the transcript that he's talking about an issue that for him, in his head, is resolved.

Inner City Press:  But this is… okay because this is the one part of it.  I guess I understand that if… if… that things are being played out in a court in Seoul and whether the nephew… what he said that the Secretary-General did or not is, I guess, not going to be answered until it's answered there.  But, there's a simpler question, which is, the nephew works for Colliers International, which is a New York real estate firm, and the Vice-Chairman said online that they do business with the UN.  So my question is… and I asked you this before, but I'm going back to this because it seems like a very fair question — what are the rules when a relative of the Secretary-General or any high official does business with the UN?

Deputy Spokesman:  Procurement at the UN is done through our procurement office.  It is not done through any sort of issue having to do with family or family connections.  It's a procurement process that all firms have to abide by, and that's how firms get contracts.

Inner City Press:  So how did Colliers… how much business has Colliers done with the UN?

Deputy Spokesman:  You would have to ask Colliers.  As for UN procurement, it makes contracts by its normal activities.  This is not connected to anyone related to the Secretary-General.  Yes.  Oh, and… oh, wait.  You had another question on Burundi.  And on your Burundi question, see, you ask so many questions that it gets lost.  On your Burundi question, of course, we'd be concerned at any efforts to crack down on press.  We do have a small human rights team… team of human rights workers who are in Burundi and they're examining human rights issues and they'll follow up on any sort of allegations of any problems in the country.

   Here is what Ban said, by the UN's own transcription:

"I’ve seen reports having to do with my nephew. Regardless of whether it’s true or not, I feel quite ashamed that a scandal like this has surfaced and caused controversy. About my nephew’s business activities, I have never known and never took part in any of this. I’d like to tell you clearly that this has nothing to do with me. As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I am doing a lot of things for the international community and the international community expects a lot from me. While I am fulfilling my duties as Secretary-General, such unnecessary and incorrect allegations or rumours cause inconvenience to my work as Secretary-General. So I’d like to ask you to refrain from doing that."

  Who is Ban request to "refrain," from what? The questions about his nephew are entirely legitimate, and continue because they have not been answered. They don't just go away. 

  Tellingly, the current head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous has been allowed to openly refuse to answer Press questions, as if the issues of cover up of rapes in DR Congo, Darfur and now Central African Republic will go away.

  While the Free UN Coalition for Access openly opposes such non-answering by Ladsous (and Ban's spokespeople), Ban praises and partners with the old UN Correspondents Association, whose leaders praise Ban back, do not ask about conflicts of interest, and have even tried to get the investigative Press thrown out for such reporting. This is the context.

 On May 18, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq an event more specific question: did Ban raise any of its relatives' real estate projects, for example Landmark 72 in Vietnam, to the Emir of Qatar in a meeting on September 24, 2013? May 18 video here and embedded below.

  Haq repeated that Ban is not involved, that he and Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric have "nothing to add." On May 15, Haq told Inner City Press that the UN does not have to respond about any relative of Ban who is not a UN staff member, even if they do business with, or with the name of, the UN and Ban. Inner City Press has raised that higher within the UN.

  The JoongAng Daily reports that its affiliate JBTC has obtained an email in which Ban's nephew Bahn Joo-hyun wrote:

“QIA said the emir of Qatar had an official meeting with the UN Secretary General at the United Nations [Headquarters] at 11:30 a.m., and [Secretary General Ban] mentioned the Landmark 72 upon request of [Ban Ki-sang]" - Ban's brother.

  Using the time 11:30 a.m., Inner City Press searched past versions of Ban Ki-moon's schedule and found such a meeting:

"September 24, 2013, 11:30 am    NLB SG Conf Rm 3rd flr The Secretary-General with H.H. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar"

 But the UN's read-out for that meeting did not mention real estate:

"The Secretary-General met today with His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar.  The Secretary-General reiterated his call for a political solution to the crisis in Syria, and expressed gratitude to Qatar for its support to the Central Emergency Response Fund and other generous humanitarian assistance.  They discussed the Palestine-Israel issue and also the importance of United Nations political efforts in Yemen.  The Secretary-General thanked the Amir for Qatari support on the Alliance of Civilizations, sustainable development and climate change.  

New York, 24 September 2013."

  The Alliance of Civilizations is headed by Qatar's former Permanent Representative to the UN.

(On May 18, 2015, Inner City Press also asked Haq for Ban Ki-moon's response to Qatar detaining BBC journalist Mark Lobel while he was reporting on the treatment of migrant workers in the run up to the World Cup there; Haq's and the UN's response seems muted.)

   It is reported that Ban's nephew Ban got business trying to sell off a Sung-linked skyscraper in Vietnam by saying that Ban had discussed the project with Emir of Qatar (on whose private jet Ban has flown), and by reportedly forging a letter of commitment from Qatar's sovereign wealth fund.

  On May 14, Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric replied to Inner City Press that Ban has "no connection" with this nephew - strange, just as a matter of genetics.

 On May 15, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq a closer question: to confirm that Ban's nephew Bahn has worked for the real estate firm Colliers, and the Colliers has done business with UN.

  (Bahn's LinkedIn page lists him at Colliers, whose Vice Chairman Andrew Roos says "Some of his major clients include various divisions of the United Nations, including its Joint Pension Fund... For the United Nations, he has been responsible for more than 500,000 square feet of leasing transactions.")

 Despite this set-up, Haq insisted that the UN does not have to, or does not, respond about family members if they are not UN staff.

 But what if the Secretary General's family member does BUSINESS with the UN?  Haq insisted the UN will not comment, that added that he faced similar questions "ten years ago," apparently an allusion to Kojo Annan and the Mercedes in what's called the Oil for Food scandal. To this has the UN sunk. Video here and embedded below.

 Inner City Press will be asking again, if it is legitimate for the UN to say it will not answer any questions about high official's family members using the UN connections to get business and going business with the UN.  Here is what UN deputy spokesperson Haq said, and then the transcript

Inner City Press: Yesterday, I asked Stéphane about these developing stories about the nephew of the Secretary-General and the claims made about the Qatar Sovereign Wealth Fund.  And the reason I… he said yesterday, that the Secretary-General has nothing to do with his nephew.  But I wanted to ask because there's been more reporting since even yesterday and basically what's emerged in these articles is that the nephew, Mr.… I don't want to get the name wrong.  We'll call him Mr. Ban… Ban Joo-Hyun… had made two claims.  He had made a claim to the construction company that was run by the now deceased business man, that the Secretary-General had raised this very project to the Emir of Qatar in a meeting.  And he also made a claim that the Qatar Sovereign Wealth Fund was behind the deal.  So this is… the question that I have for you is, is even if the Secretary-General is saying that these statements didn't occur, that's what I was trying to get a yes or no on, or if they did occur, he has nothing to do with them, has he informed the members of his family, including his nephew, including his brother who is part of this story, and including, for example, his son-in-law, not to invoke his name when they seek to do business deals that obviously involve Sovereign Wealth Fund of countries that have business with the UN?

Deputy Spokesman:  The Secretary-General keeps his work life and his personal life separate.  He is not involved in this matter and this is not a matter that involves any UN personnel.  Therefore, I would have no comment on it.

Inner City Press::  But there are obviously people reporting quite to the contrary, so I'm asking you is there…

Deputy Spokesman:  No, they're not.  Actually, Matthew, they're not reporting to the contrary, they're reporting about other people.  Nothing of what you said suggests any connection to the United Nations.

Inner City Press:  Have you read today's Viet Nam news that says…

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, I have.

Inner City Press:  The nephew said that Ban Ki-moon raised this with the Emir of Qatar, so my question is can you deny that?  Do you deny that the Secretary General has raised that?  Okay.

Deputy Spokesman:  The Secretary-General is not involved in this in anyway.

Inner City Press:  Okay, and also my fourth and further question.  The nephew is reported to work at a New York real estate firm known as Colliers, which partners of whom say they have done business for the United Nations system.  So I wanted to know… this seems… this is a just a factual question, is it true that the nephew of the Secretary-General works for a firm called Colliers?  And is it true, will you confirm or deny that this firm has done business with the UN?

Deputy Spokesman:  I do not have to comment on questions of family members of the Secretary-General who are not employed by the United Nations.

Inner City Press:  Doing business with the UN, you don't have to comment?

Deputy Spokesman:  He is not UN staff.  He has not been UN staff and his business does not concern the United Nations.

Inner City Press:  If somebody does business with the UN… I mean that's what I'm asking…

Deputy Spokesman:  Matthew, a decade ago, people asked me different questions about other different relatives, but the point is what we concern ourselves with is the work of the UN and its personnel.  Yes.

   Inner City Press a month ago on April 17, then again yesterday on May 14, asked Ban's UN spokespeople about scandal, the first time drawing laughter and yesterday on a closer link to Ban, a flat but vague denial. The closer link involves Ban's nephew Bahn Joo-hyun and an allegedly forged letter from Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority.

   Implausibly, Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric on May 14 told Inner City Press that Ban has “no connection” with his nephew.

   In the same briefing he refused to explain why the UN, in responding to Press questions about another UN scandal involving the cover up of child rape in the Central African Republic by French soldiers and Ban's (French) UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, provided answers only to correspondents who hadn't even asked or in some cases reported about the rapes.

   Dujarric told Inner City Press, "Matthew, I can't be responsible for what parties you're invited to or not invited to." Ban later that day feted the so-called UN Correspondents Association, whose leadership not only never asked about  Sung Wan-jong but actively tried to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN. It's the UN's (or Ban's) Censorship Alliance. The new Free UN Coalition for Access, FUNCA, takes a different approach.

  Back on April 17, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson at that day's noon briefing:   (video here)

Inner City Press: about the individual, Mr. Sung Wan-jong, who committed suicide, but apparently before he did, said that he had very close ties with Ban Ki-moon.  That's why he was being prosecuted and said that they developed the Chungcheong Forum together.  So I just wanted to, what was his relationship to the individual who committed suicide?  Why does he think his name has come up in connection with this scandal?  And does he have some kind of statement of --

Associate Spokesperson:  I mean, all we have to say about this is we've seen the reports, and as we've said from this podium and the Secretary-General has himself said many times, his focus is on his job currently and not on Korean domestic politics.

Inner City Press: Sure.  It’s less a question about running for office there, then so much as if somebody, right before they commit suicide, says, it's kind of like “Rosebud”, he said Ban Ki-moon, does he…

Associate Spokesperson:  We have no comment.  [laughter]  We have no comment.

  In the month that followed, even as the scandal developed, no questions  were asked or allowed at the UN about it. Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, when Inner City Press pursued follow up questions, said “you must have been such an obnoxious child.”  UNCA said nothing; the Free UN Coalition for Access, FUNCA, challenged this and Ladsous' approach including in a flier it posted in the UN's fourth floor press area.

  Also on press freedom in Ban's UN and his links with South Korea, a week ago on May 8 Inner City Press asked Dujarric:

Inner City Press / FUNCA: There are a number of reporters complaining publicly in a their publications that they sought to attend a “Journalists at Risk” event yesterday inside the UN in which the ambassadors of France and Belgium spoke and that they were not able to attend it and was told the press was being “banned” from the event.

Spokesman Dujarric:  Banning the press is not something I like to do.  No press was banned.  I think there was miscommunication on the part of the organizers, who probably didn't coordinate the way they should have with our colleagues here.  A guest list was provided to our security services, which included journalists.  And those people on the guest list were able to attend.  I think there may have been misunderstanding where journalists wanted to come in with cameras who didn't have accreditation.  We tried to facilitate things as much as possible.  As always here, we're happy to host any event, obviously, the Member States are holding.  It just needs a minimum of coordination with the various services.  But, to say that press was banned, I think is a mischaracterization of what happened.

Inner City Press / FUNCA:  Some are contrasting it to the speed with which journalists were processed to attend the Hillary Clinton stakeout.  They were saying that this was actually… there was more time to do them, but they were told it's impossible, it can't be done.

Spokesman Dujarric:  I would dispute that account, as well.  You had country-specific questions?

Inner City Press: The country is South Korea.  I just want to know, since it's out there and it has been reported in The Korea Times, can you confirm that the Secretary-General is going to South Korea for four days in and around 22 May?

Spokesman Duarric:  I cannot confirm at this point, but I encourage you to attend the briefings next week.

   A week later on May 14, as the scandal grew closer to Ban at least through family ties, Inner City Press asked Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it: (video here)

Inner City Press: about this case in South Korea that's been bouncing around for some time, the businessman Mr. Sung, who committed suicide, but mentioned the Secretary-General's name soon before he did it.  And there's a new article in the Korea JoongAng Daily, which says that Mr. Ban's nephew Ban Joo-hyun, the manager of a New York-based real estate firm, is somehow involved in this case.  And it cites him providing a forged letter for the Qatar Investment Authority, saying a building in Viet Nam was going to be built when it wasn't.  I would assume that your office is aware of this.  What is the… is any of this true?  For example, is his nephew involved in this real estate deal?  Does his nephew deny providing a fraudulent Qatari investment fund letter?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I think the… This does not… this does not involve the Secretary-General.  He has nothing to do with this issue, and he has nothing to do with his nephew.  And I think you… I really have nothing else to add.

Inner City Press: I'm only asking because it only has connection to possible politics, countries, the commonwealth fund — do you deny it?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I understand… I think… Clearly, the Secretary-General is not involved in any of this.  I would like to… oh.  Yes.  I would like to say have a good weekend.  But, go ahead.  (Video from Minute 3:53)

  Inner City Press has previously and repeatedly asked the UN about Ban family connections and the still UNdisclosed acceptance of gifted travel, from Qatar, here.

  Watch this site.


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