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On UN's Afhgan LOTFA Scandal, Kubis Tells ICP There'll Be Public Accounting

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 20 -- The UN system's top envoy to Afghanistan Jan Kubis Thursday was asked about the series of audits of the Law & Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan published by Inner City Press over the past three months; he said there will be a public accounting.

   This is more than Inner City Press has received from the UN Development Program, which has sent a few responses but no direct comment on the exclusively published leaked audits.

  On September 20, Inner City Press asked Kubis about the LOTFA scandal. Video here, from Minute 3:37. Specifically, Inner City Press asked about a letter the European Union sent to Kubis about the scandal, which Inner City Press put online here.

  Kubis said that the EU states are more and more convinced that the necessary steps are being taken by UNDP. He said the auditing of LOTFA is going on, but a midterm review will give rise to general public information.  But when?

  Six days ago, Inner City Press asked the UN's Afghanistan deputy Michael Keating about this. Video here, from Minute 11:07.

   Keating said "we need to be more explicit in acknowledging... the risks that are inevitably there with a program of this size and complexity and not try to hide those risks."

   But as donors threaten to stop funding LOTFA, a question is whether disclosing the risks would be enough, or whether some of the corruption like double payments and "missing assets" would have to curtailed.

    Inner City Press then  exclusively published three more audits. In "Observation 19," the auditors drily note:

"During the course of our physical verification of assets, we noted that some of the assets, which were appearing in Statement of Assets, were not physically present."

  This diplomatic "not physically present" phrase, if accepted, would have a good future on all manner of criminal defense.

In Observation 18, the auditors state that "during the course of our audit we noted certain instances where purchase orders were not raised in respect of procurement of goods," including over $300,000 for the purchase of Toyota vehicles.

   Observation 17 "note[s] instances where evidences of required approvals by Special Procurement Commission were not available with the contracts" and "recommends that the provisions of the Afghanistan Procurement Law should be complied" with. Ya don't say.

  Beyond this UN system corruption, there is a more serious debate about the proposed spending on constructing a new electoral roll -- would it be done fairly for all groups and how much would it cost. This question could not be asked - Kubis had a flight to catch.

 On his way out he told Inner City Press that the electoral issue, and how the 19% budget cut to UNAMA is being (mis?) implemented, would still be issues when he comes to the UN next time. We aim to be here, and to ask. Watch this site.

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