The UN’s Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) has found during their nine month investigation that the organization simply ignores corruption when it comes to light.
The investigators found that UN officials remain in a “state of near denial” about this corruption:
“The report is pretty devastating,” observes Brett Schaefer, an expert on U.N. finances at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “The U.N. apparently has very little interest in policing fraud, and there is very little reason to believe its own figures and data about it.”
The JIU performed the investigation after numerous independent auditors “suspected fraud reporting statistics and erupting procurement scandals.” They found that over half of UN staffers and executives believe fraud goes unpunished in the organization. Those who spoke out do not believe they will receive protection if they point out or report fraud.
The findings back their suspicions:
Even when individual U.N. organizations claimed to have strong anti-fraud policies, the inspectors found, by and large, they were mostly backed up by fuzziness: “a lack of clear definition of roles, responsibilities and accountabilities, or a lack of clear guidance on how to operationalize the policy.”
Moreover, there is “little, if any, information on the performance of anti-fraud activities based on specific performance indicators, the level of fraud exposure . . . credible fraud statistics, sanctions, fraud losses and recovery of assets and lessons learned.”
They also discovered that the UN does not have a “system-wide definition of the term ‘fraud'” as well. Some officials tried to define it in 2005, but the effort fizzed. JIU inspectors could not find a reason why. Maybe that’s why fraud investigations often end without punishment:
Fraud investigation efforts, the report says, are not only underfunded but, in complicated cases, nearly endless: it can take an average of 12 to 18 months to complete a fraud investigation, followed by another 4 to 8 months of management “follow-up.”
And follow-up often just ends: the U.N. bureaucracy is reluctant to prosecute fraudsters even when discovered. The reason: it may involve lifting “the immunity of witnesses and related United Nations documents, and may exposure the United Nations organizations to counter-claims.”
The brakes on prosecution, in other words, come from the U.N.’s own lawyers, who the report says “were very direct in expressing reservations about the United Nations system’s ability to effectively pursue cases with national authorities.”
The same reluctance apparently also applies to recovering stolen money and property.
Last month, the United Nations Appeals Tribunal (UNAT) pushed aside two whistleblowers who have experienced “reprisal for exposing crimes or misconduct must now rely only on the determinations made by the UN Ethics Office that very rarely supports them.” From Whistleblower.org:
In refusing jurisdiction in a judgment read today for the cases of Florin Postica and Ai Loan Nguyen-Kropp, the UNAT underscored its repudiation of whistleblower protection, which it first set out in a 2014 ruling.
Postica and Nguyen-Kropp, have sought relief from retaliation for over six years. In 2010, they reported that their supervisor, Michael Dudley, then the Officer in Charge of the Investigations Division in the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), had tampered with evidence in a case assigned to them. In their Tribunal complaint, they alleged – and the UN Dispute Tribunal concurred – Dudley subjected them to an unfair and irregular investigation.
But due to red tape, Judge Goolam Meeran had to dismiss the complaint:
In Nguyen-Kropp and Postica UNDT/2013/176, the Dispute Tribunal found that the investigation was retaliatory, failed to follow due process, and paid scant regard to the risk of reputational damage to the Applicants. The Respondent was ordered to pay compensation to the Applicants. The Appeals Tribunal vacated the Dispute Tribunal’s judgment in Nguyen-Kropp and Postica 2015-UNAT-509, finding that the appeals were not receivable because the decision to initiate an investigation was preliminary in nature. Thus, the Applicants were denied a remedy based on another technical finding of the Appeals Tribunal on receivability.
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