Ain't Seen Nothing Yet," UNDP Whistleblower Vows, Calling for Ban Ki-moon's
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
UNITED NATIONS, July
20 -- The UN Development Program, an agency embroiled in scandal not only in
Latin America and
"'has a culture of retaliation," according to Tony Shkurtaj, who served as the
UN's and UNDP's Chief of Operations and Security in North Korea. On June 5, Mr.
Shkurtaj filed a whistleblower complaint with the UN Ethics Office, which was to
have been ruled on in 45 days.
Friday, Mr. Shkurtaj sat down with Inner City Press in the Ambassador's Grill,
just across from the UN Secretariat, for an exclusive on-the-record interview.
He said he believes in what the UN and UNDP stand for. "The objectives and
mandates are noble," he said. "But at UNDP they are undercut by certain corrupt
managers, who live in impunity surrounded by bullet-proof glass made of UN
says he reported wrongdoing in UNDP's North Korea office, including the holding
of counterfeit U.S. currency, as far back as early 2005. Inner City Press
asked, to whom did he report? To the Controller and Director of Finance
Darshak Shah and UNDP Treasurer Julie Anne
Mejia, he said. Then up the
chain to Director of the Bureau of Management
Rather than leading to any clean-up by UNDP, the result was Shkurtaj being
separated from service in March 2007. UNDP told the UN Department of Safety and
Security to include Shkurtaj's photo in an array that guards use to bar threats
from UN grounds. The Ambassador Grill, while in basement of the same building as
UNDP, thankfully is not patrolled by UN security.
Ki-moon and Kemal Dervis, July 5, 2007, whistleblower Tony Shkurtaj not shown
"I am not
the first person to be retaliated against by UNDP," Shkurtaj says, quoting from
reports of UNDP's Ombudsman, from 2004 through 2006, which describes "pre-taliation"
and retaliation and abuse of power in the agency.
relations with governments are more important than treating its staff members
fairly. To UNDP officials, especially Ad Melkert, staff members are disposable,"
Meanwhile, Inner City Press' reporting reveals that Melkert himself may soon
become disposable. An attempt to insulate him from the scandal he has denied was
scheduled for June 29: a meeting including the Ambassadors of the Netherlands
(where Melkert used to be a politician, and may hope one day to be again), Japan
and the United States. That morning, however, a New York Times article was
published, sourced to UNDP, which named and attempted to preemptively undermine
the credibility of "Artjon Shkurtaj." The meeting was cancelled, and has not
since been rescheduled.
Meanwhile, Shkurtaj says that under Article 8 of UNDP rules for the management
of counterfeit currency, a person is obliged to return counterfeit bills to the
local banks, and if they are not accepted, to inform the embassy of the "country
which owns the currency."
Article 8 of "UNDP
Procedures for Offices Using Cash"
for a copy) provides that
"In the event a vendor or individual
reports receiving counterfeit banknotes, the incident should be reported by the
recipient to the local authorities and when foreign currency is involved, to the
embassy of the government which issued the bank notes."
"That's what I did -- I followed the rules."
spokesman David Morrison has said that UNDP asked Shkurtaj to cooperate and
provide information, but that he refused. Shkurtaj, calling Morrison a
"well-paid professional liar," showed e-mails reflecting he offered to meet with
UNDP's audit unit, as long as a Staff Union representative could accompany him.
UNDP's Antoine Khoury said no.
Re: Cooperating with UNDP
antoine.khoury [at] undp.org
salleppan.kandasamy [at] undp.org, ivan.foo [at] undp.org, peri.johnson [at]
Tue, 05 Jun 2007 18:41:49
Tony, I appreciate the quick response. While I am glad to note that you
express willingness to meet with OAPR, as mentioned in my earlier message, I
reiterate that we cannot accept to have conditions and terms set for this
meeting to take place. Please be advised that OAPR does not have the intention
to invite representatives from OLPS to participate in our meeting with you in
order to discuss the matter pertaining to the counterfeit currency notes that
were in the possession of UNDP-DPRK. Please also note that we cannot accept to
have a representative from the Staff Council present at this meeting.
describes a situation in which UNDP, after failing to act on information that it
was violating laws and its own rules in North Korea, tried to "shoot the
messenger," and then to destroy the evidence. "While Ban Ki-moon called for an
audit on January 19, UNDP closed down the North Korea office without any mandate
either from their Executive Board nor from the Secretary-General, and this they
did in order to avoid the audit," says Shkurtaj.
Board of Auditors has completed phase one, an audit that did not include any
visit to North Korea. "You need to understand the limitations that were placed
on the auditors," Shkurtaj says. "When you read the audit closely, you will see
that the Board of Auditors complained that UNDP failed to provide them with
documents that they had promised in the media to provide, with [resident
since March 2007... By rushing to give back project asset to the North Korean
government, the UNDP corrupt managers wanted to prevent any further audit to the
"The Kim Jong Il
regime has successfully played the UN for cash," Shkurtaj says. "Despite the
hundreds of millions of dollars invested in DPRK by UN agencies, the status of
the North Korean people has not improved. This makes me wonder where did all
the money go."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a second phase of audit, including
a visit to North Korea. Shkurtaj says he supports the decision of the
Secretary-General for a second phase audit, while he still believes that a
fully independent inquiry may be needed.
Ki-moon should hold Ad Melkert and UNDP officials who retaliated against me
accountable," Shkurtaj says.
Melkert, already being
questioned about UNDP's lack of
transparency in December 2006,
before the North Korea scandal broke, told Inner City Press that he would ensure
improvements, in terms of accountability. "You
ain't seen nothing yet," Melkert added.
Shkurtaj, a close reader of Inner City Press, turned the phrase back on Melkert,
saying "he's right." Emerging from the basement Ambassador Grill, the UN
Secretariat building behind him, Shkurtaj said, "They ain't seen nothing
yet." The saga continues.
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
Reporter's mobile: 718-716-3540
Other, earlier Inner
City Press are listed here, and
some are available in the ProQuest service.
Copyright 2006-07 Inner City Press, Inc. To request
reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] innercitypress.com -
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
(and weekends): 718-716-3540