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On Sudan, UN Was Silent on April PNG, Gave Staff's Dollars to Khartoum

By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow Up on Exclusive Must Credit

UNITED NATIONS, December 30, more here – As the Sudan expulsions meeting of the UN Security Council began on the morning of December 30, Inner City Press asked UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant if the Security Council had held any discussions when Sudan expelled the head of the UN Population Fund in April.

  Ambassador Lyall Grant told Inner City Press, "Not that I can recall."

  Perhaps the UN's silence then, including silence from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN Resident Coordinator Ali Al-Za'tari, now despite collusion himself being expelled, and silence in the Fall when a UN aid official was pressured to abruptly leave the country, led to this.

   As Inner City Press has exclusively reported, Al-Za'tari went so far as to transfer UN national staff members' US dollar accounts in the UN Federal Credit Union to the Bank of Khartoum. We've dubbed this "Pay to Stay" - but instead, it seems only to have emboldened the Omar al Bashir / NISS government.

  UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson went into the Security Council to brief the members behind closed doors. Will he take questions from the press, or at least explain the UN's previous silence and transfer of national staff members' US dollar accounts in UNFCU to the Bank of Khartoum?

With the UN belatedly moving to stand up to pressure from the Sudanese government of Omar al Bashir, who has ordered UN officials Yvonne Helle and Ali Al-Za'tari to leave the country, Inner City Press has learned more about a particularly shameful way in which the UN and Al-Za'tari tried to placate the Sudanese government, to the extend of giving it the U.S. dollars of UN national staff in Sudan.

   Today Inner City Press is exclusively publishing a letter from the UN Federal Credit Union claiming the transfer was related to UN sanctions, and an opinion from the US Office of Financial Assets Control which says that is not the case. Inner City Press questions to the UN and its agencies have been pending for days.

    In the first document Inner City Press is exclusively publishing today, here, UNFCU's President and CEO William Predmore told national staff in Sudan that

"We understand the concerns of our members after necessary account restrictions were implosed, and we regret there was not an opportunity to deliver communications more swiftly to the individuals impacted... As you may be aware, UNFCU is subject to U.S. Regulations (including those promulgated by the Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC)). In order to ensure compliance with those regulations, checking account services and debit card services were terminated for local staff.”

   (Many were stranded with AMT cards that didn't work, while their dollars were transferred to the Bank of Khartoum.)

  But contrary to what UNFCU's Predmore told staff in writing, the US OFAC in the second document Inner City Press is exclusively publishing today, here, told UN staff that sanctions law and regulation does NOT require what the UN has done, citing 31 CFR 538.531. Click here to view in PDF.

   Last week Inner City Press exclusively reported on the UN Federal Credit Union abruptly telling UN national staff in Sudan that their accounts were being frozen and the dollars in them transferred to the Bank of Khartoum. Inner City Press has asked the UN, including UNDP, OCHA and UNFPA, to explain this.

   On December 27 Inner City Press exclusively published a complaint filed with Ali Al-Za'tari about the change, here. Inner City Press notes that the decision to give the UN national staff's dollars to the Bank of Khartoum flies in the face, in fact, of the sanctions.  The complaint to Al-Za'tari states that

“UNFCU closed checking and savings accounts of national staff without prior notification and consultation and unilaterally transferred all funds of staff members' accounts to local saving accounts to be paid in SDG by Bank of Khartoum... Based on the long years of established provision of the UNFCU service, majority of national staff have made long term financial arrangements taking into account UNFCU deposits facilities which provided solutions to many of their problems such as medical treatments and education to them and their families.”

  Tellingly, Predmore's letter to staff also says that the switch was made pursuant to UNDP's rules. What rules?

  Now the UN Security Council is set to meet on December 30 about Sudan's order to Ali Al-Za'tari and Yvonne Helle to leave; the Council will say they are in support of UN staff. What will they do about UN staff members' dollars having been given to the Sudanese authorities?

  In essence, UNDP and its Resident Coordinator Ali Al-Za'tari gave Khartoum the U.S. dollars of UN national staff, without notice. Even that wasn't enough to keep him in the country. But it is reminiscent of another UN scam Inner City Press exclusive uncovered, the overpayment of Myanmar by inflated foreign exchange rate in the wake of Cyclone Nargis.

  That was covered and credited – will this be? Or does the scam here extend to covering up the complicity of UN officials like not only Herve Ladsous but even, yes, Ali Al-Za'tari, who remained silent when UNFPA's country director was thrown out of Sudan in April, and as Inner City Press asked the UN on December 24, gave in quickly to the ouster of Yvonne Helle? Watch this site.


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