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WIPO Gurry Dismissed Whistleblower Wei Lei Now It Is Challenged To WIPO GA As Guterres Silent

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, New Petition

UNITED NATIONS GATE, May 31 – The UN World Intellectual Property Organization, whose work on North Korea's cyanide patents and retaliation Inner City Press has reported on, is still at it.

Inner City Press last reported that "WIPO CIO and whistleblower Wei LEI has been summarily dismissed by WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. This has been years in the making, ever since Wei Lei testified against Gurry in an OIOS investigation." Wei Lei and allies have tirelessly raised the issue to member states (the same states which have yet to prevail on Guterres to relent on his retaliatory ban on the critical Press in New York); and now this:

"To Ambassador Chi Dung Duong, Chair of the WIPO General Assembly, Ambassador Esmaei Baghaei Hamaneh, Chair of the WIPO Coordination Committee  Your Excellencies,  The staff federations of FICSA, CCISUA and UNISERV representing 120,000 international civil  servants worldwide, have been raising serious concerns regarding staff-management relations at  WIPO.  Most recently, the staff federations have received email communications which were sent to  delegates of WIPO Member States by numerous colleagues who were dismissed at WIPO and in  which they allege mistreatment by WIPO.

The colleagues are requesting the WIPO Member States  to establish an independent external panel of experts to look into management and governance  issues at WIPO... Not only have WIPO colleagues claimed that the systemic use of investigations at WIPO are being  used as a mechanism to retaliate against staff who speak up or blow the whistle on perceived  wrongdoing, but also that there is an alleged neglect of due process and an absence of procedures  in place to ensure that WIPO meets its obligation of duty of care to its staff.  Although there have been numerous important cases which the staff federations acknowledge  should be given due consideration, one of the most recent and prominent cases is that of  Mr. Wei Lei, former D2 Chief Information Officer at WIPO and Vice President of the WIPO Staff  Association. 

Mr. Lei was in charge of information technology as WI PO's Chief Information Officer (CIO) at WI PO  and thus a key witness in the 0105 investigation into the alleged misconduct (corruption of an IT  procurement process) by the WIPO Director General. Following the 0105 investigation into this  and another allegation, it was later reported that the WIPO Director General had been given an  unredacted copy of the 010S report, thereby exposing the witnesses (including Mr. Lei) to  retaliation.  2  In accordance with WIPO's Policy to Protect against Retaliation for Reporting Misconduct and for  Cooperating with Duly Authorised Audits or Investigations (hereinafter "the policy"), Mr. Lei  requested from WIPO's Chief Ethics Officer (WIPO CEO) whistle-blower protection against  retaliation, but the request was not granted.

Subsequently, and also in accordance with the policy,  Mr. Lei wrote to the UNOPS Ethics Office (UNOPS EO) requesting it to review the WIPO CEO's  determination in respect of Mr. Lei's complaint of retaliation.  The UNOPS EO, in overturning the determination of WIPO's CEO, found that Mr. Lei had substantiated a prima facie case of retaliation against him in respect of the protected activities. The findings of the UNOPS EO having been final, as per the policy, WIPO's CEO was to refer the case to  the Director of WIPO's Internal Oversight Division for investigation.

In addition, the UNOPS EO  determined that, as the allegations were against the WIPO Director General, the investigation was  to be performed by external investigators in accordance with paragraph 22 of the WIPO Internal  Oversight Charter, and that the burden of proof would be on the WIPO Administration to satisfy  the investigators. Furthermore, the UNOPS EO determined that Mr. Lei's position as WIPO CIO  should be protected in the meantime. 

Mr. Lei later wrote that, instead of initiating the investigation into his allegations of retaliation,  WIPO put him under investigation for allegedly having fraudulently used someone else's bank card to withdraw CHF 300 from a UBS automated teller on WIPO premises and subsequently dismissed him.  Whilst the staff federations recognize earlier efforts by Member States at WIPO and other  international organizations to develop and implement whistle-blower protection policies aimed at  encouraging staff to report perceived wrongdoing without fear of retaliation, such policies can only  be effective when enforced by the decision-makers and accompanied by transparent and good  governance policies and practices. 

In view of the number and substance of reports of staff mistreatment at WIPO, the staff federations  hereby respectfully request the WIPO Member States to: 

1) Take the required action to ensure that the UNOPS EO determination that an investigation  relative to allegations of retaliation against Mr. Lei be conducted by external investigators  without further delay. To do anything less would not only defeat the purpose for which WIPO  Member States had decided that the current whistle-blower protection policy be implemented  at WIPO but would also deter all WIPO staff from reporting wrongdoing and joining staff  representative bodies in the future. 

2) Set aside WIPO Administration's decision to dismiss Mr, Lei until such time as the Swiss  authorities have completed their investigation of WIPO's allegations against Mr. Lei. It is  recalled that it is Mr. Lei himself who had repeatedly requested the WIPO Director General to  lift his diplomatic immunity so that the Swiss authorities could conduct their own investigation  of this matter at Mr. Lei's request. 

3) Urgently develop, implement and enforce good and transparent governance policies and  practices at WIPO." We'll have more on this.

     The allegation goes like this:  For weeks Lei kept the card that was sent to his office by mistake, running the risk of having the card been reported as missing and blocked; On the day he planned to commit the fraud, Lei intentionally notified the owner of the card that he received the card by mistake and that he had forward the card to the owner, running the risk that the owner might walk over to his office asking for the card; An hour later Lei made the withdrawal of 300 Swiss Francs with full knowledge of the presence of security cameras, although the card was reported to the bank as missing 3 days earlier and a replacement was already sent and his assistant denied receiving the PIN.    Not only did the WIPO administration believe such a story is credable, it also convinced itself that the crime was beyond a reasonable doubt although the bank had refused to provide the basic information such as where the card was sent and if the card was blocked.     Even Chitra Radhakishun, the WIPO Chief Ethics Officer, initially determined that the bank card investigation against Lei should be investigated as retaliation. But the WIPO administration immediately put Radhakishun under investigation. Sylvie Forbin, Deputy Director General of WIPO who received Radhakishun’s recommendation, also wrote to Radhakishun and asked her to reconsider. Three weeks after that, Radhakishun was sufficiently convinced that her position needed to change and, therefore, issued a new determination that reversed her earlier determination.     To make the whole story even more dramatic, the Ethics Office of UNOPS - on which Inner City Press has also been reporting - who was contracted by WIPO to review the WIPO Ethics Office’s determinations, ruled that WIPO Chief Ethics Officer’s initial determination was not a determination, although it was in the memorandum to Lei under the heading of “Determination”, and that Radhakishun’s second determination should be accepted, although WIPO policy does not allow its Ethics Office to conduct a review of its own determination and Radhakishun should have recused herself by then as she was under investigation with allegation of her misconduct against Lei.     Lei has now complained to OIOS and to Guterres -- good luck, a fish rots from the head -- and asked an investigation into the possible collusion between the Ethics Office of UNOPS and the WIPO Administration.  But could people other than retaliation master Guterres take action? Watch this site. That's WIPO -  the wider UN of Antonio Guterres has banned Inner City Press from entering its campus since 3 July 2018, claiming that its Lieutenant Ronald Dobbins targeted ouster of Inner City Press from a speech by Secretary General Antonio Guterres on June 22 then from a meeting about his budget on July 3 were "altercations." Next this ban was extended  beyond the UN campus to the Pierre Hotel on Fifth Avenue, for a July 10 press conference by the UN affiliated but ostensibly independent World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) which as Inner City Press has previously reported helped North Korea with its cyanide patents and retaliated against it staff and media. Inner City Press was e-mailed an invitation on July 2 and replied with an RSVP to cover it. Marshall Hoffman of WIPO's public relations firm Hoffman PR wrote back, "Thanks. We will see at the press conference." After that, Guterres spokesman Farhan Haq was asked why Inner City Press is banned and said it is pending a review of two "altercations" - both of which were improper and unilateral ousters of Inner City Press by UN Security's Dobbins and officers, four of whom refused to give their names. Soon, there was this follow up e-mail from WIPO's flak Marshall Hoffman: "Dear Matthew, It has come to my attention that your accreditation to the UN has been suspended pending an investigation into an incident. Given the suspension, I regret you will not be able to attend the WIPO press conference."

Now the UN has gone so far as to put Inner City Press on a "banned from UN" list it does not make public; Guterres' security nearly got Park East Synagogue security to oust Inner City Press from Guterres' October 31 speech... on tolerance. This is today's UN: the ban must be reversed.

We'll have more on this - and on this: how untransparent and inaccessible is Antonio Guterres, as UN Secretary General? The day he canceled his first UN Headquarters press conference in six months, he was ironically the guest of honor of the United Nations Correspondents Association. He was scheduled to make remarks at 6 pm - but it was not in the UN Media Alert. Inner City Press, whose RSVP to UNCA was never responded to, streamed the event from the tourists' balcony, edited here. Then Guterres' UN Security guards physically ousted Inner City Press from covering the UN Fifth Committee's July 3 meeting on his proposal to fire UN staff and move the jobs- then on July 5 banned Inner City Press from entering the UN. Fox News story here, GAP blogs I and II.

While Guterres' UNCA fan club said nothing, others did. Guterres blathered on about how he supported the media in Portugal - dubious - and then cuts a cake for his UN Censorship Alliance. Earlier Inner City Press asked Guterres' lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who previously lent the UN Press Briefing Room to UNCA, if the event was open press but he refused to answer and ran off. Inner City Press asked the spokesman from the President of the General Assembly, who is listed as attended but will not speak, why it is not in the UN Media Alert. The spokesman said to ask UNCA. But UNCA never responded to the RSVP of Inner City Press through the Free UN Coalition for Access. In the middle of the event the claim was that UN correspondents didn't have to RSVP - not what the notice said. The event was not even in the June 26 UN Media Alert. Last week, Dujarric spoonfed sound bytes to a prominent UNCA members and is working with them to try to further restrict Inner City Press, here - Inner City Press was in fact ousted on June 22, video here, story here). The Free UN Coalition for Access questions this and the propriety of this explicit focus by the UN Correspondents Association on the UN's "causes" rather than simply covering the UN as it is; it and corruption are among the reasons Inner City Press quit UNCA (and co-founded FUNCA).


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