by UN's Ban, Bill Clinton & Douste-Blazy, Called MassiveScam,
$525,000 Spike Lee Film Yields $200,000
Russell Lee, Exclusive
July 11 -- To raise money for the fight against AIDS and
other diseases during the purchase of an airplane ticket: it sounds
like, or as the UN calls it, “MassiveGood.”
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised the program, and made the first
donation. Inner City Press asked Ban's envoy on “innovative finance
for development,” Philippe Douste-Blazy, about how the program
would be transparent. Rather than directly answer, Douste-Blazy
handed out copies of his book.
and $11 million dollars in spending, including $525,000 for a 60
second Spike Lee promotion film featuring brief appearances by Samuel
Jackson, Susan Sarandon, Paul Auster and a recording of former
President Bill Clinton's voice, questions have arisen.
Inner City Press asked
the UN on July 8
Press: UNITAID allocated $22 million to something called the
Millennium Foundation, which is also headed by Mr. Douste-Blazy, for
this thing called MassiveGood, where for every plane ticket people
were going to click. It was estimated that it would raise hundreds
of millions of dollars [but] it’s
raised much, much less than that. Given that Ban Ki-moon was the
first clicker and used the UN platform to promote this idea, what
does he think about the article and of the use of $22 million that
should have gone to, actually, antiretrovirals, to pay Spike Lee to
do an ad for something that’s raised so little money? And what is
Mr. Ban Ki-moon going to do to clean up this scandalous use of funds?
We’ll check with our colleagues dealing with this
about what kind of response there is on that.
afternoon, this response was proffered:
Jul 9, 2010 at 2:22 PM
Subject: Your question on
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply
at UNITAID wish to stress that MASSIVEGOOD is a
private-public partnership in the first stages of development.
after the initiative was launched at the United Nations,
MASSIVEGOOD has raised $200,000 in micro-contributions from travelers
and corporate donations, a figure which is completely in line with
the original fundraising projections.
that it is already seeing an impressive number of donation
“clicks” coming from travelers this summer, only four weeks after
its operational launch. The Millennium Foundation will be holding its
operational launch in the USA this October and it is sure to be fully
deployed throughout the travel industry there.
deployed in the USA and in several European countries,
MASSIVEGOOD will allow travelers to make a micro-contribution towards
the three health-related Millennium Development Goals, as is already
the case in Spain. The Millennium Foundation will continue to secure
partnerships within the travel and tourism industry, and to
ultimately ensure that each of us who travel can help the world reach
the Millennium Development Goals.
very nice. But consider:
Millennium Foundation (MF) is headed by Philippe Douste-Blazy. It
has been established in Nov. 2008 as a private Swiss Foundation. Its
purpose is to collect "voluntary contributions" (i.e.,
donations) to support global health initiatives. The key idea is to
encourage travel agents, individual travelers and corporate companies
to routinely donate a small sum of money (2 €, 2 $ or 2 £ per
ticket) each time they book an airplane ticket online, thanks to the
cooperation of the main companies part of the Global Distribution
System (GDS). The MF was created with the assumption that those main
companies - top three being Sabre, Travelport and Amadeus - would
fully cooperate with the above-mentioned donation scheme. Under a set
of favorable assumptions, a McKinsey report was predicting the scheme
could raise a fair amount of money, in the few hundreds of millions $
Douste-Blazy, UN Secretary General Ban's Special Adviser on
"innovative financing", has lobbied for such a donation
scheme given his close ties with the travel industry (notably French
businessman Jean Francois Rial). As Chairperson of UNITAID Executive
Board, he came to realize that certain governments, notably the US
government, would never support UNITAID and implement an airline tax
similar to the French tax himself had created when he was a member of
the French government. UNITAID is a big UN procurement agency for
HIV/AIDS drugs hosted by the World Health Organization in Geneva.
Dousteblazy has used his position as UNITAID Chairperson to have
UNITAID granting a substantial budget ($22 million) for the creation
of the MF, while we was simultaneously taking up the presidency of
the newly created entity (thus cumulating the two presidencies :
UNITAID, MF). This entered into force in Nov/Dec. 2008 with the
establishment of the MF, recorded by the Swiss government, and the
first wire of funds from UNITAID to the MF.
UN's Ban and Bill Clinton click, return and
accountability not shown
MF quickly recruited his own secretariat, starting with a
Director General, another Frenchman named Bernard Salome. An
Executive Board of the MF was set up, with representatives of most
countries already involved in UNITAID (notably France and the UK),
but also representatives of prominent NGOs (Oxfam). The MF's HQ was
officially located in Geneva, in the commercial zone by the city
MF has designed its collecting scheme on 2 main tasks : i/ having
the GDS companies developing the software enabling their customers
(e.g., travel agencies) to make the routine online donation ; ii/
launching massive media and advertisement campaigns in targeted
countries representing a great potential of air travelers : the US
and selected European countries (Germany, Switzerland, UK, Spain).
Later, This is the Situation
half of the UNITAID grant, i.e. 11 M$, has been spent
or engaged. The MF spends an additional 500,000 $ a month minimum. At
the current pace of spending, most insiders think the MF will run out
of funding by end 2010, Q1 2011
donation scheme ("Massivegood") has been launched in 2
countries only : the US (early March 2010) and Spain (1 June 2010)
donation situation is dire : after 4 months targeting the US
market (i.e., the key market), the amount of donations is about
14,000 $, and only a few hundreds of people have donated. Some
sources actually suspect those donors to be employees of one of the
GDS companies partner to the donation scheme, inviting its staff to
make a donation to get the process started.
of the main GDS companies (Amadeus, Travelport, Sabre) has
implemented the online donation software with its own customers
(travel agencies), for various (legal, technical) reasons. It seems
that as little as 5 out of 150,000 travel agents in the US have
individually and voluntarily responded to the call for donation.
2009, the MF has contracted an advertising consortium (led notably
by French advertising firm Fred & Farid) for its media and ad
campaign, labeled "Massivegood". According to sources, the
contract would amount to 9 M$. Today, at least 3 M$ have been spent
for the Massivegood campaign and the US launch in particular. A very
big expenditure ($525,000) has been the making of a 60 second
promotional movie by Movie Director Spike Lee, featuring brief
appearances by Samuel Jackson, Susan Sarandon, Paul Auster and a
recording of former President Bill Clinton's voice. This (fairly
ordinary) movie has generated little interest on the Internet.
: 11 M$ of HIV/AIDS funding have already evaporated, and
more is at risk ; the launch of the Massivegood brand on the most
critical market (US) has been a failure ; unable to ensure the
dissemination of the donation software, the MF seems irreversibly
unable to achieve the two elements of its initial strategy, i.e.
organizing a vast network of online donations through the GDS
companies, and promoting its brand vis-a-vis the citizens and
travelers in key countries.
incompetence, the most striking and shocking factor is that
UNITAID funding should legally be used to scale up access to HIV/AIDS
and malaria drugs for the poorest countries. Today, UNITAID, the
Global Fund against HIV/AIDS and all organizations fighting global
pandemics are struggling with declining resources. How many doses of
anti retrovirals, how many bed nets against malaria, how many packs
of therapeutic food could have been bought with those wasted 11 M$ ?
Is it worth waiting for the remaining 11 M$ to disappear into thin
informed sources want to know:
the UN Secretary General Ban aware of the failure of the
Massivegood scheme ? Why did he decide to support it by making
publicly the first online donation himself on March 4th ? Was he
briefed on the fact that the software wasn't ready ? Does he intend
to keep Mr. Dousteblazy as his Special Adviser ? Does he intend to
take full responsibility for his adviser's initiatives ? Would his
attitude have anything to do with his wish to retain French support
in view of a second mandate ?
is Mr. Douste-Blazy reaction in front of this situation ? Does
he consider resigning from his position of Chairperson of UNITAID
Executive Board for having distracted resources of this organization
? How could he plea ignorance as he chaired both organizations (the
grantor and the grantee) ? Did he consider he exerted objective
control and defended UNITAID's interest ? Can he display the exact
and detailed account of all travel expenses incurred by UNITAID and
the MF for him to "promote" the Massivegood scheme ? He is
supposedly an unpaid UN adviser ("one dollar contract") :
who pays for his income,secretariat and office(s) located in Paris,
not in Geneva ? Some say the Paris office rent would be as high as
10,000 € a month : is it correct ? Is Mr. Dousteblazy using this
office only for UN or MF related purposes, or for his participation
to French politics ?
Mr. Salome, like Douste-Blazy a Frenchman, appointed Director
General without any transparent and competitive process, post
publication and selection panel ? Why is the amount of his salary not
published or disclosed even to the members of the MF Board ? What is
the amount of travel and other expenses incurred by the MF on Mr.
Salome's behalf ? Could this complacent situation have something to
do with the fact that Mr. Salome is a former adviser and very close
friend to Bernard Kouchner ?
did WHO, UNITAID's hosting entity, validate the "transfer"
of $22 million from a UN HIV/AIDS fund to a non-UN, opaque private
entity such as the MF, entirely created from scratch and specifically
designed for a dubious fund-raising scheme, without raising questions
or demanding guarantees ? Especially since this operation did not
enter into UNITAID's legal purposes ? Would it have something to do
with the fact that the WHO lawyer in charge of this scrutiny process
(Ms. Donna Catliota) has been recruited by the MF as a lawyer
immediately after she validated the transfer of funds from UNITAID to
the MF ? And why did such an obvious conflict of interest remain
unnoticed by WHO upper management ?
is the level of administrative expenses of the MF ? how many
people are actually employed by the MF : some say 25 staff, is it
true ? it is true that at least 6 of them perceive net salaries in
excess of 10,000 € a month after tax ? The MF website mentions that
the MF has its offices in Geneva but also maintains a "satellite
office" in Paris : what are the expenses linked with this Paris
office ? How many people do work in Paris for the MF ? Some say that
the Geneva office, actually located inside the airport zone, is a
"ghost office" : how many people do actually work there on
a daily basis ? And above all, why does a private Swiss law
foundation have an office in Paris, while planning operations in the
US or Spain and not in France ? Would it have something to do with
the possibility for some French, Paris-based staff to evade from
French tax laws, receiving tax-free salaries under Swiss laws while
enjoying Paris ?
did Mr. Douste-Blazy prefer to use UNITAID funding for the
MF/Massivegood scheme instead of leveraging private philanthropic
funds or even turning to (development) banks to provide the seed
funding ? After all, the McKinsey study had predicted a certain
potential for the donation scheme (under a set of precise assumptions
though) : with appropriate guarantees, the initial capital could have
been borrowed and reimbursed as quickly as a 2 or 3 years. Why then
distracting UN HIV/AIDS funding ? Would it have something to do that
Mr. Douste-Blazy wanted to avoid any external scrutiny over "his"
scheme, be it from a philanthropist, a bank or a UN body, whereas
such scrutiny could have prevented the current mismanagement of funds
was the advertisement company for the Massivegood campaign chosen
? Was there a competitive tender for the 9 M$ contract ? Why was a
French company chosen, notwithstanding the fact that the donation
scheme had to be launched in the US primarily ? Did the French
company enjoy early information and contact from the MF and its
Chairperson, ahead of the contract ? How does the firm explain the
mediocre success of its campaign in the US ?
did Director Spike Lee bill the MF 525,000 $ for such a short
promotional material ? Was it non-profit ? Did he and all the actors
involved work pro-bono ? What is the detail of expenses incurred by
this movie ? How does he explain the movie has generated so little
the CEOs of the main GDS companies (Amadeus, Travelport, Sabre)
aware of such financial mismanagement by the MF ? If yes, is it why
they have refused to cooperate further with the MF, notwithstanding
the fact that they had signed a letter of intent ? If yes, again, why
then didn't they alert political and administrative authorities?
And what of Bill Clinton, Paul Auster, Spike Lee, Samuel
L. Jackson and Susan Sarandon.
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