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Corruption In SG Guterres UN Pension Fund Has Lopez Lashing Out At Staff Press Banned

By Matthew Russell Lee, follow up on exclusive

UN GATE, Dec 14 – At the UN of Secretary General Antonio Guterres, top jobs are doled out to unqualified people based on favoritism and corruption is covered up with confidentiality agreements. Such practices are the subject of extensive media coverage a mere three hour train ride south, but at the UN the Press which reports on them is roughed up by Guterres UN Security and has been banned from entering the UN for 895 days and counting. But the UN's self-regulating mechanisms have lost all teeth under Guterres.

  Now December 11 Guterres' rep Martha Helena Lopez, who is both the ASG of the Office of Human Resources and chair of the UN pension board went to the 5th committee of the General Assembly and delivered a statement attacking the UN participant representatives, who are the board members elected by UN staff, for having raised serious concerns with the General Assembly about problems at the UN pension fund. 

She accused the participant representatives of unethical conduct, breach of confidentiality, breach of the code of conduct, breach of procedure and violation of Pension Board governance.

She also dismissed them as a "small sub-group" (Inner City Press has the letter) despite them representing two-thirds of all participants at the fund, for which $50 billion is entrusted.  The concerns they raised include mis-spending of the Fund's budget by its management, attempts to remove the Fund from the jurisdiction of the UN Appeals Tribunal (UNAT), non-reporting of fraud, the fact that lending the fund's securities to short-sellers would contravene the fund's regulations, lack of compliance with General Assembly resolutions, and their views on Board governance reform. 

 In notifying the General Assembly, the final decision-taker of the fund, of their concerns, the participant representative board members were simply fulfilling their legal duty, which is to ensure the fund is properly run and in compliance with the rules.  It is understandable that the Fund's leadership and chair would want to cover this up and discredit participant representatives in front of the General Assembly. The veil of secrecy allows UN pension fund managers to conceal millions of dollars each year in spending in bids to create mini-empires. While the rest of the UN is showing fiscal restraint, the pension fund's operating costs per participant have risen year-on-year. This is eating into the funds available to pay pensions.  The UN participant representatives have written to Antonio Guterres to ask him to intervene in what was clearly an attempt by the chair and the fund's leadership to intimidate and threaten retaliation against participant representatives that were only doing their job. 

Will Guterres take action or will he allow impunity to continue at the pension fund like it always has? Inner City Press bets on the latter - Guterres and Melissa Fleming have banned Inner City Press 895 days to try to cover up Guterres' personal corruption. Watch this site.

  Now under the corrupt management of Guterres, who banned the Press to try to conceal his personal financial links to convicted UN briber CEFC China energy, his officials to the $69 billion UN Pension is leaving on two days notice. Guterres should be arrested. His spokesman, who has refused all Press questions on this, emailed this out from his multi million dollars dubious Upper East Side penthouse apartment on Sunday night:

"Mr. Sudhir Rajkumar has resigned from his role as the Representative of the Secretary-General for the investment of the assets of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, effective at the close of business on Tuesday, 31 March 2020... Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General  New York, 29 March 2020." If it weren't for legal immunity / impunity, these people would already be in handcuffs. Watch this site.

  Back in October 2019, this report: at the pension fund's annual meeting in July, its chief investment officer, formally known as the Representative of the Secretary-General, presented a plan to shift some of the fund's investments from developed to emerging markets over a period of four years.  Reports are now emerging from his staff of bullying and intimidation attempts to make them sell the 3.32 billion dollars of developed market equities, not when the moment is right in that 4 year period, as is the usual practice, but to dump all that stock between now and the end of the year at whatever price they get for it.

That money would be used to buy stock in small companies in emerging markets, with some going to the RSG's home country of India. Some of the money would also buy shares in various funds managed by Global Infrastructure Partners, an entity that the RSG's former boss, Jim Kim left the World Bank suddenly to work for. 

Pension fund investment staff have complained that despite poor economic performance globally, developed market stocks are still performing the best. For the fund to have safe and strong returns, it should hold onto developed market stock for the time being. They have also complained that selling too much in one go lowers the sale price.  However, this assessment has fallen on deaf ears. On the 2nd of October, the RSG issued instructions to sell $310 million of North American stock in a single day.  It is not clear what is behind the RSG's precipitous actions, but investment experts at the pension fund are worried.

  This as Guterres complain about the UN's lack of funds, and gets his in-house scribes to help him with his message, while excluding critical Press and transparency. It is going down (hill).

  Back in August 2019 this report on the UN Pension Fund under Guterres, "the chaos, physical threats and intimidation that marked last month’s annual meeting of the Pension Fund’s Board at the UN compound in Nairobi. As your elected staff pension committee representatives and members of the Board, we would like to share with you a full account of the meeting.

Please note that while the Fund is actuarially in balance (0.1 percent unfunded), it faces significant governance and legal risks that can negatively impact its sustainability, putting it in a delicate position. Further, based on our own analysis we are unfortunately unable to assign credibility to the performance data published by the Fund.  

  The Fund is beset by governance and legal risks    

This year’s session was sadly marred by shouting, banging on tables, intimidatory comments, and a physical threat by the Chair of the Board to remove one of your representatives from the room “involuntarily”. The Board also collaborated in illegally suspending another of your representatives from the meeting. One of your representatives was illegally barred from voting. Two of your representatives were illegally prevented from taking part in segments of the session, despite the UN Appeals Tribunal having three times ruled such acts contrary to the Fund’s regulations. Taken together this prevented us from effectively defending your interests and created an atmosphere of physical insecurity within a UN facility. Additionally  the Board’s report to the General Assembly omits some of our interventions and misrepresents certain decisions, and is therefore not a true reflection of the Board’s proceedings, raising important issues of integrity.    

Underlying this behaviour is a fear by Board members from certain small specialized agencies that sensible and much-needed reforms from a General Assembly-backed governance review that we pushed for, would reduce their voting weights in line with their organizations’ declining population weights and financial contributions to the Fund. Currently the agencies represent one-third of participants but have retained two-thirds of the votes. Your representatives are therefore outvoted on issues that matter to you, such as legal compliance, promptness of payments and sustainability.    

It should be noted that as part of this governance review the Board rejected requests by the General Assembly, and for which we had made proposals, to assign greater voting weight to the UN, to make use of its executive committee, known as the Standing Committee, for dealing with urgent issues that require decisions between annual Board meetings, and to give retirees the right to elect their representatives to the Board. We nevertheless made sure our proposals were mentioned in the report. The Board did approve a proposal for terms of reference for Board members whereby they are now expected to have a knowledge of the Fund’s rules, which is welcome. However, we continue to have concerns about attempts to block transparency about the Board’s proceedings and decisions, and the intimidation we continue to face in communicating with you, our electors.    

Less than half of beneficiaries are paid on time, sometimes not at all    

We have been pushing hard for newly retiring staff and other beneficiaries to be paid on time. Two years ago we highlighted the fact that some had to wait more than nine months to receive their first pension payment. The Fund now claims mission accomplished and that 80 percent are paid within 15 business days. Our own analysis of the data shows the true percentage at around 40 percent, which is a long way off the mark. At the same time, logistical reasons mean that the much-vaunted 15 business day target can still mean a wait of two or more months. In this context you should know that many occupational pension funds, including in developing countries make the first pension payment as soon as and sometimes before a staff member retires.     Further, it would appear from our estimates that around 4,000 beneficiaries have not been paid at all, with the funds owed to them at risk of being forfeited as deadlines pass. The Fund terms these cases “unactionable” saying they haven’t received the correct paperwork. Besides the regrettable terminology, we haven’t seen evidence, nor has OIOS, that the Fund has tried to obtain that paperwork despite it receiving an annual $10.5 million payment from the United Nations  to do so. Proposals by staff unions to help find beneficiaries whose paperwork is missing, many in developing countries, have been met with indifference.    

To this end we made proposals to pay advances to newly retiring staff when not all paperwork has been received, and to help find former staff whose money is at risk of being forfeited. The Board regrettably rejected both proposals.  

  Running costs are on a sharp rise amidst an unwise restructuring    

The Board approved a budget that would see the Fund’s running costs per participant rise by 12 percent a year, albeit with no link to commensurate improvements in performance."

  No accountability? Sounds like the UN of Guterres and now of his new Global Communicator Melissa Fleming, who despite taking over the UN's propaganda and media accreditation function has now twice refused to response to formal requests for rules, due process, and re-acceditation to cover the upcoming General Assembly high level week like thousands of state media. More on this to follow - Inner City Press will not desist.

  Back on January 8 Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokeman Stephane Dujarric, who had on camera promised answers, "January 8-7: On the UN Pension Fund, on which your Office has been refusing to answer Press questions, what is the SG's response to the staff unions' letter AFTER the UNGA late December vote, that "Mr. Levins appeared to conspire with other Board members to manipulate the process. In the email (enclosed), the Chair stated his intention to exclude us “as it is clear what their view will be.”   Since then we have not heard anything from Mr. Levins.   In light of the above...  recommend that you do not accept the Mr. Levin’s proposal as a recommendation of the Board but instead request that the minutes of a special session of the Board or meeting of the Standing Committee be provided, in order to satisfy Article 7(a) of the Regulations.   We also recommend, given the departure of the current Acting CEO on 31 December, that existing delegations of authority by the Acting CEO be maintained so that staff of the Fund Secretariat in Geneva and New York may continue to certify and approve payments from 1 January and until a new Acting CEO is appointed. If necessary, an officer-in-charge can be designated from among the senior staff of the Fund Secretariat for the purpose of maintaining those delegations beyond the departure of the current Acting CEO'?"  Five days later, no answers at all. And so we publish below a letter to all Pension Fund staff, and this analysis of rot: the General Assembly just criticized the Fund for not acting with integrity and not respecting the regulations it established for the fund. It has been discovered that Sergio Arvizu has been taking money out of the fund without authorization but with the help of his former deputy Paul Dooley, whom Inner City Press has previously reported on before being roughed up and banned under Guterres.  Dooley signed off a generous disability pension for Arvizu without putting it for review to the UNSPC as legally required - we can only assume that there is something to hide and Arvizu wants an income before he reaches his actual retirement age. Arvizu basically left the fund in a pique after not getting the five year extension he wanted and now ordinary staff must pick up the bill while pension fund staff are being told to pay out a pension they know is illegal. But as the new head of the fund, who herself was appointed without the legally required board decision, has said, rules are only guidelines.

Dear Colleagues,     Today we had a courtesy meeting with the newActing CEO, Janice Dunn Lee, in our capacity as staff representatives for New York and Geneva.     During the meeting, which was of an introductory nature, we covered the following:  A recent history of theFund including attempts to remove it from the UN. The importance for theFund secretariat to return to being a rules-based organization that would return it to serenity after the difficulties of the past. Pension benefit administration is essentially a rules-based exercise. To this end we noted that the fact that the former CEO’s disability entitlement was not reviewed by the UNSPC meant unfair pressure would be placed on fund staff as they would be asked to calculate and make payments for a pension that was not legally authorized - in effect becoming complicit in that decision. The need to depoliticize the secretariat so that it would not be seen to be taking sides in Board disputes, as this called into question the secretariat’s impartiality, impacted the Board’s respect for the secretariat and had a broader demoralizing effect on staff. The need to restore the executive office and its staff in line with the OIOS recommendations and GA resolution. We added that duplicating the executive office was using GTA funding that could be consolidated and used to finance staff working in other areas where there may be priorities. Ms. Dunn Lee promised to consider our points going forward. She commented that rules acted as guidelines and sometimes needed to be interpreted flexibly. It was also important to ensure that staff are a good fit for the pension fund. She added that she would demand accountability from her staff.     As this was an introductory meeting aimed more at values and vision, it was agreed that quarterly staff-management meetings would be set up in line with ST/SGB/274 (

Last week Inner City Press published and asked Guterres and his spokesman without answer about about the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund, and the letter Guterres - who has taken to refusing Inner City Press questions despite a promise to the contrary by his USG DPI Alison Smale - has gotten from unions, after even UN OIOS issued a devastating audit of the Pension Fund....

On the Pension Fund corruption and cover up front, a recent audit, of the type Guterres has refused to start about the CEFC UN bribery scandal, showed that the Fund’s management used a $400,000 contract with a "Big Four consulting firm" - Inner City Press exclusively identified it as PWC before being roughed up and ousted from Guterres' UN -- to then procure an additional $1.8 million of unrelated services, which Inner City Press reported to be outside UN procurement rules. As the $1.8 million had not been subject to competitive bidding, the consulting firm billed extensively on hours for senior partners. But in Rome, this audit was not shared with UN Pension Board members. The Board’s audit committee, which was aware of the audits, chose not to disclose its views on these audits. The Audit Committee also withheld from the Board that the Fund’s management had not accepted recommendations from the Office of Internal Oversight Services, to which Inner City Press has repeatedly written throughout this summer of censorship, that would prevent such events from happening again. Those impacted say that audit committee members were required to sign a confidentiality agreement - echoes from 200 miles south.

   One recommendation coming out of the Rome UN Pension Board meeting is to give the UNJSPF Deputy CEO job to an under-qualified French candidate, Thibaud Beroud. The Deputy CEO post is important: the CEO of the Pension Fund has been out on extended sick leave, like Heidi Mendoza the head of OIOS. Beroud has worked at the French Senate's 3000 member pension fund for nine years -- but even the UN's job notice for the Deputy CEO position at the UNJSPF, with 200,000 members, requires a full 15 years of such experience. (Inner City Press is publishing the job notice and Beroud's French Linked in resume on Patreon, here.) But this is how the UN works, under Guterres. His Jan Beagle, who under the changes Guterres managed to get through the UN Budget Committee by remaining silent on killings by Committee Chair Tommo Monthe's Cameroon, will be responsible for see that (or if) Human Resources rules are followed, has been made aware of the problems but it is UNclear what she is doing about it. Ultimately as with the expanding UN sexual abuse and harassment scandals, the rot is due to Guterres, and his response has been... censorship.

Because the initial pretext of Guterres and his "Global Communication" ex-NYT bureau chief Alison Smale to rough up and ban Inner City Press, that it was prohibited from covering the UN Budget Committee meetings as it has for ten years, fell apart, Guterres' spokesman Farhan Haq told Fox News: “there have been a number of allegations from fellow journalists that Lee has harassed them over the years. 'A lot of journalists have not just been harassed but threatened by him and that’s a problem,' Haq said.”

   That last line is extraordinary. Without identifying a single one of these "lot of journalists," Haq declares their anonymous allegations to be true: "HAVE not just been harassed but threatened me him." This stands in contrast to the UN not accepting - in the case of Alison Smale and Stephane Dujarric, trying to not even acknowledge receiving - Inner City Press' written, on the record allegations complete with exhibits. It's called favoritism, and censorship.

  This same Farhan Haq recently answered one of Inner City Press' written questions, about why Guterres had taken no action on its documented exclusive May 24 report for which it received threats (and subsequent letter to Guterres and Smale) that through presumptive nepotism, management of the UN Security Council's website had been given to John van Rosendaal, the photographer husband of Kyoko Shiotani, the chief of staff of Guterres' Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, previously US Deputy Ambassador to the UN under Susan Rice and Samantha Power. Haq responded, "If there are allegations of misconduct they should be taken to the internal oversight offices and mechanisms. Unfounded allegations do not constitute a formal complaint." So how does Haq for the UN now deem anonymous allegations against Inner City Press not only as formal complaints, and as true?

  How corrupt has Guterres' UN become? Even the Security Council's website is a prize to quietly be given to a top official's spouse, with no competition or transparency. In May prior to being banned from the UN in July by Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Inner City Press was exclusively informed by whistleblowers that Department of Political Affairs chief of staff Kyoko Shiotani's husband John van Rosendaal has been brought in to run the Council's website, as if the UN and its Security Council were a small business suffused in nepotism. After its reporting, Inner City Press was approached by a senior UN person and told to drop the story, or else. Then, in the middle of a speech by Guterres on June 22, Inner City Press was pushed out of the UN by UN Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbins and four UN Emergency Response Unit officers who, equipped with automatic weapons, refused to give their names. On July 3, after a written alert by Inner City Press to Guterres and his team including about "irregularities in even how the UNSC's website is run," a more violent ouster and 23 day ban since. In the interim, more information from sources about the UN website corruption: "Further to your article, let me inform you that van Rosendaal was hired at a P5 level (something that takes a lifetime for career UN staff to accomplish). And that he won't be even making the web site, that will be done by another department, he will just show up to meetings from time to time. He has absolutely no expertise in design or development of web sites and will not make any contribution to the actual web site. His contract was again extended, and will probably get another extension after the new year. Similar sites done by DPI in the past were done with internal resources, no extra cost and usually by lower P level staff or G level staff. In addition to this he is asking for additional money to hire external contractors that are suppose to do some of the actual work." Inner City Press, from the bus stop in front of the UN Delegates Entrance where is it working since banned by Guterres, asked a follow up question, as it cannot due to UN Spokespeople given Guterres ban: "what has USG Rosemary DiCarlo (or anyone else) done about this, since it was exposed?" The reply: "Nothing much was changed. I believe only you reported it and they don't consider that as much negative exposure. So pretty much business as usual. This project is financially supported by the Dutch government and John is Dutch so... The total cost with his P5, the other offices involved and external contractors that John is hiring could reach probably close to half million dollars" or, we're told, double that. So it was simple for Guterres' (and it seems DiCarlo's) UN: do nothing about the blatant corruption, just rough up and ban the Press which alone reported on it. Finally on July 30, with Inner City Press still banned from the UN by Guterres for the 27th day in a row, Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq after the noon briefing Inner City Press could not attend emailed this, which we publish in full: "If there are allegations of misconduct they should be taken to the internal oversight offices and mechanisms. Unfounded allegations do not constitute a formal complaint. Mr. Van Rosendaal was hired via proper channels in accordance with standard procedures. He is fully qualified for the job. The Security Council website has not been “given” to anybody. Mr. Van Rosendaal is the project manager for SCAD. Other UN offices are also involved in this project.  We will leave it up to the Member State to announce its involvement, but Mr. Van Rosendaal’s position is outside the budget provided by the Member State. His nationality had nothing to do with his hiring." So it seems that the information provided to Guterres and his team on July 25 was not even passed on by him or his team to OIOS. We'll have more on this OIOS - watch this site.


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