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Could UN Go Dark Due to Corruption? UNTV Operator  Dismantled, Electrical Contractor Indicted, Procurement Chaos

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, April 5 -- Controversies surrounding the UN's procurement practices now extend to those who televise Security Council meetings and media stakeouts, such as today on North Korea, and even the lighting and electrical system inside the UN.

  The principal of the UN's electrical contractor, Santo Petrocelli Sr. of Petrocelli Electric, was indicted on April 3 in Federal court in New York for "federal labor law violations for providing unlawful payments and benefits to an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ('IBEW') Local 3 Business Representative. Petrocelli surrendered to federal authorities on the charges" on April 3. Inner City Press is putting the document online, here.

  Meanwhile the owner of Venue Services Group, UNTV's operator, has been forced to sell off its assets by its secured creditor Wachovia Capital Finance:

"National Mobile Television has laid off 47 staffers, closed offices in New Jersey and Florida, and appears to be setting the stage to close its doors after more than 40 years in operation. The Torrance, CA-based remote-production company’s secured lender, Wachovia Capital Finance, has also issued a Notice of Public Sale of Collateral for the company’s remaining assets during an auction."

  This triggered a memo from the IBEW to those who work for UN TV:

All indications are pointing to a complete dissolution of the company which has been on the brink of bankruptcy for many years. While anyone paying attention to this situation since our last contract negotiation will not be surprised by this latest development, it still leaves open many unresolved issues and questions. One particular situation that remains unresolved is the issue regarding unmade payments from NMT to our pension fund. Payments have been in arrears for over 3 months and the amount still owed exceeds $250,000.00 and counting. Pension Board lawyers are actively engaged in this situation. While the details of their talks with NMT remains undisclosed, it has been reported that all options are on the table, including the possibility of commencing legal action... Unavoidably, the United Nations is aware of all the problems stated above."

   How could the UN be contracting with companies in such shambles and criminal predicaments?

Greece's foreign minister on UN TV, could go dark, Trojan horse not shown

  Both of these two cases run through Joan McDonald and Andrew Nye of the Facilities Management Service of the Department of Management, headed by Angela Kane. It is difficult to argue that both of these situations were unforeseeable at the time of contracting. As simply one example, Inner City Press reported in detail on VSG in mid-2008.

  Beyond the public reports of the sell-off of VSG's parent, well-placed sources have long told Inner City Press of VSG moving its executives into the UN as their Jersey office space was closed. Two executives remain; then-honcho Dave Shaw was rebuffed.  Why did the UN go forward with the deal, then remain unprotected? What will be done about Petrocelli? What accountability is there? What safeguards are in place?

  Click here for a new YouTube video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at]

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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