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Afghan Scandal Blind to New Kabul Bank, Ban Passes Buck to UNDP

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive, 4th in series

UNITED NATIONS, June 25 -- For the UN system's Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, "no analysis of risks involved has been carried out and documented to continue maintaining accounts of police staffs in the New Kabul Bank," audit documents obtained by Inner City Press show.

  As noted in the first installment of this series LOTFA purports to be about training and "building capacity" of Afghan police. But it is essentially a money transfer and payroll service, with a sideline as a travel agency.

  But even its payroll service is mismanaged. In sample "Observation #3" the auditors say that

"police staffs have to maintain their bank accounts with New Kabul Bank. It is worth mentioning that there had been reports in early August 2010 about misappropriations and large financial losses in Kabul Bank, the operations of which have been taken over by the New Kabul Bank. No analysis of risks involved has been carried out and documented to continue maintaining accounts of police staffs in the New Kabul Bank."

  Even when give at least 64 hours to comment on its own internal audits of its scandal plagued Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, the UN Development Program has chosen to attack the Press and then go silent rather than explain its waste, fraud and abuse.

   As well as resubmitting the first round of questions late on June 22, Inner City Press requested comment on this and two other audits, and asked UNDP to state:

1) WHY Manoj Basnyat is no longer the country director -- did this have ANYTHING to do with the LOTFA irregularities?

2) the date on which each of Basnyet, Sandeep Kumar and Ubadallah Sahibzada became aware of the irregularities and of the attached audits. Thanks, on deadline.

   Twenty hours later, rather than answer a single question or comment on any of the audits, UNDP's Abdel-Rahman Ghandour responded that the first round of questions had ended up in UNDP's spam folder.

  But obviously the questions above hadn't. And still there have been no answers, now sixty four hours in. (We are seeking, however, a copy of Sandeep Kumar's book "On the Edge.")

  And so at the June 25 noon briefing by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan is a program that is run by UNDP but I am asking you a question, because a letter was sent by the EU to SRSG Jan Kubis saying that the now seemingly widespread corruption in the program, including double payment of Afghan police and other things, have making them pull money back from it. So, I wanted to ask you, that the letter from the EU to Mr. Kubis says that whistleblowers should be protected and I have spoken to some of the whistle-blowers and they allege for example, the profligate use of Lear jets by UNDP and UNAMA, they allege the hiding of armored vehicles that are sitting unused in the program and I wanted to know what’s the Secretariat’s response, outside of UNDP, which has not answered any of my questions, what’s the Secretariat’s response to the growing scandal around this law and order trust fund on Afghanistan, and what steps has Mr., Mr. Kubis or DPKO or DPA taken to protect he whistle-blowers who brought it to light?

Spokesperson Nesirky: On the last part, there is an established program to allow such whistle-blowing activities and that is clear and already in place. The earlier part of your question on the details of this program, you need to speak to UNDP. If I have anything further coming from the Mission itself, I will let you know. But on the program itself you need to speak to UNDP, as I know you have been.

  Inner City Press has sent three rounds of questions to UNDP, but has yet to receive a single answer. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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