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  • The Scriptorium

    1/23/2006

    U.N. Procurement Scandal: A ‘Culture of Impunity’

    Filed under: — Jennifer Rast @ 12:34 pm

    The internal audit of the United Nations Procurement Division is beginning to leak out to the media, despite the U.N.’s best efforts to keep it secret, and it doesn’t look good for Kofi & Co. The Oil for Food program was just the tip of the iceberg, it seems, and the corruption runs deep and involves shocking amounts of money. Fox News, being the only news organization who will cover U.N. scandals, is reporting that the multi-billion dollar U.N. procurement department and the U.N.’s peacekeeping missions are just as corrupt as the Oil for Food program, and the media may not be able to bury it this time. Words like “systematic abuse,” “pattern of corruption,” and “culture of impunity” are being used to describe the U.N. system. According to Fox News one third of all U.N. contracts were found to be tainted and involved some form of corruption or irregularities. Keep in mind this is the internal report. That means the U.N. investigated itself and top U.N. officials and managers were allowed the opportunity to rebut, rewrite, and clean up the final report. You can bet the worst of the abuses were weeded out and covered up.

    The report has received the typical U.N. response. When their corruption is exposed, they inconvenience a few people and try to make it look like punishment. In this case, eight MIDLEVEL U.N. officials were suspended WITH PAY. Nothing will actually be done to change the U.N. system, or prevent future criminal activity. Even U.N. auditors admit that the corruption is so entrenched and widespread, recurrence of these “questionable activities” is probable. Questionable activities is UN-speak for embezzlement, bribes, theft, and abuse.

    Nothing will change at the U.N., unless the U.S. threatens to stop funding them. Already, they are refusing to release the names of those who were suspended, and the veil of secrecy over the inner workings of the United Nations continues.

    The suspension of eight mostly mid-level officials, however, hardly seems adequate to the problem, based on the OIOS report. OIOS auditors charge that mismanagement and corruption were the order of the day in the U.N.’s procurement process, just as they were in the Oil-for-Food scandal, and that virtually every area of the U.N. that touched on peacekeeping procurement was affected.

    The OIOS investigators also declare flatly that there has been little or no attempt by the United Nations to look into internal accusations of mismanagement and fraud, nor any attempt to hold individuals accountable for their actions. “The control environment needs immediate attention,” the report says.

    This is the same response we saw from the U.N. after the Oil for Food scandal broke. No one is ever punished, with the exception of a few lower level scapegoats, and nothing changes. The only thing that could completely clean up the U.N. would be to send it the way of the League of Nations.

    Beyond the alarm over procurement, the investigators’ questioned the effectiveness of the U.N.’s legal affairs department, and looked skeptically at a top-level U.N. committee known as the Headquarters Committee on Contracts (HCC), which supposedly examined and gave final approval to all contracts worth $200,000 or more. The HCC performed its functions inadequately and was often misinformed and manipulated by peacekeeping and procurement staffers who appeared before it, the report says.

    As one result of the oversight weaknesses, the report states, “the U.N. peacekeeping operations were depending on a few main vendors of questionable integrity, which made the missions vulnerable to over-charge.”

    It goes on and on and on. Once again, Fox News is the only one digging deep and reporting this scandal. Just what they’ve reported in this one article is shocking. Read all of it and try to keep track of the billions of dollars that have been wasted. Half way through the article, you’ll give up. It makes me sick that the U.S. (that means our tax dollars) is funding these globalist crooks’ lavish lifestyles, pretend peacekeeping mission, and phony humanitarian aid programs.

    In another section of the report, however, OIOS auditors recommend that the U.N. investigate possible collusion among U.N. officials to award Skylink an $85.9 million fuel contract for peacekeeping in Sudan. According to the report, one of the officials who was directly responsible for overseeing implementation of the Skylink contract abruptly resigned in December, 2005-about the time the OIOS investigation entered its final stages. No reason was given for the departure.

    Another area of suspicion for the auditors is direct transactions between the peacekeeping department and national governments, known as “letters of assist.” The investigators mention Toh specifically in a procurement case dating back to 2000, at a time when he was chief of the procurement division. The case involved rental by the U.N. of a Russian-made, heavy-duty MI-26 helicopter from the government of Peru for use by U.N. peacekeepers in East Timor. The cost: nearly $10.5 million, with the money to be paid into a Swiss bank account.

    There was no request from East Timor peacekeepers for such a helicopter, the OIOS investigators conclude, and they say there is evidence the United Nations was overcharged as much as $8.8 million on the deal. There is also evidence of bid-rigging in the case, the auditors conclude.

    And on, and on. . . . . . . Now I see why the Democrats love the U.N. so much.

    More on the Procurement Scandal:

    U.N. Procurement Scandal: The Case of the Official Who Never Was

    U.N. Suspends Officials in Procurement Probe

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