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Phantom Afghan Police, UNAMA Emboiled in Corruption, ICP Series Shows

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive, 7th in Series

UNITED NATIONS, July 1 -- More than a week after Inner City Press posed Afghanistan corruption questions to the UN Development Program, and launched its audit-a-day exclusive series, UNDP has yet to provide any response on the four internal audits Inner City Press asked them to explain.

   The series now resumes.

  The Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan has pervasively and throughout the country allowed for payments to police not on the official payroll, audit documents obtained by Inner City Press show.

  As noted in the first and second installments 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 # 6" the auditors say that

"We observed differences between number of police personnel as per HR record maintained by MOI and EPS records. We noted that EPS record was showing excess number of police personnel than the number of police personnel appearing in the HR record... Differences in personnel records between HR and EPS may have following impacts/risks: Salaries may be paid to persons who are not actually on the payroll; Double payments of salaries may be made to staff members."

  The attached audit shows that in in Asmayi Region, the excess staff number was over 1000.

  In Kunar it was 429; in Badakhshan it was 219. "We're talking real money on these phantom Afghan police," as one whistleblower exclusively said to Inner City Press.

   On the afternoon of June 22, Inner City Press asked UNDP, among other things:

"Please describe expenses for Ms. Grynspan's trip to Afghanistan, including leasing (from UNAMA) of plane for flight from Dubai, and the redeployment / hiding of armored vehicles during her visit."

  On June 27, UNDP answered thusly:

"The UN Under Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator Ms. Rebeca Grynspan flew, as recommended by UN operations, on Dubai-Kabul-Dubai flights made available on 12 and 14 July by UNAMA, on UN operated planes, as they were the most suitable and secure options. UNDP uses armoured vehicles to ensure the safety of staff, including for high level officials who come on mission."

  As Inner City Press reported in its first story in this series, whistleblowers complained to it that UNDP leased a Lear Jet for Grynspan, while "the SRSG flies commercial" for much less money.

   Given the non-responsiveness of UNDP, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office, which referred the questions back to UNDP, beyond providing a canned statement from SRSG Jan Kubis. 

 Now, another whistleblower has exclusively provided Inner City Press with this comparison of the mission in Iraq (UNAMI) with the even more corrupt on in Afghanistan (UNAMA)

"UNAMA and UNAMI were both told to prepare 19% budget cuts as Special Political Missions funded by core funding and with the UN facing pressure from member states to cut back.

"At the joint Video Conference with New York the heavyweight USGs, Ladsous and Pascoe, were rolled out, along with acting head of DFS, Tony Banbury..... UNAMI were praised for having one a good job: decided their political priorities, nationalized where possible, cut support staff by 15% etc; UNAMA by contrast had cut substantive political posts, ignored the instruction for a cut in mission support by 15% across the board, and tried to claim 'cuts' by shifting some support staff to Kuwait.

"The reason? Everyone knows that UNAMA s run by the Chief of Mission Support, Stephani Scheer (allegedly aka 'Cindy', in the book about the Oil for Food scandal "Backstabbing for Beginners'); indeed on the Thursday night after the Budget submission, she was in the UNAMA Social Center in a "tired and emotional" state loudly reminding everyone that "You all work for me!". With international support staff cut by 5% and political staff by 20% she seems to be correct - only a third of the mission is "substantive", the rest is "support and security", and despite 8 flights a day to Dubai, used by the SRSG and all UN agencies, she has insisted on retaining the UNAMA jet which usually flies half-empty and, of course, needs a large support element....

"It looks like LOTFA us not the only UN budgeting Afghanistan that could do with International Community scrutiny....NATO members are said to be particularly upset that theUN is cutting back just as they leave (who will take the blame if the UN is not there?)....they should be even more upset by the way their money is being wasted and the real jobs cut."

  The above again spreads the scandal beyond UNDP to the UN system as a whole. As to UNDP, one would think the agency will have to answer this specific: "the date on which each of Basnyet, Sandeep Kumar and Ubadallah Sahibzada became aware of the irregularities and of the attached audits." 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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