Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, May 28 -- As the Dutch government demands repayment from Eveline Herfkens, who took $280,000 from the government while ostensibly working only as UN Millennium Campaign coordinator, Ms. Herfkens is staking out a position as the committer of the perfect crime.
To the Dutch she has said that she broke only UN rules, not Dutch rules, and so she won't pay back a penny. "This is a case between me and the UN," Herfkens has said.
So Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe on Wednesday at noon, what's the UN position if somebody works for the UN and takes money from a Government?
Ms. Okabe answered, "this is a United Nations Development Program matter and UNDP, as you know, Stephane Dujarric, is willing to take any questions on this matter."
Inner City Press followed up, "The only reason I'm asking you is because her quote was 'it's a matter between me and the UN.' She didn’t say UNDP; she said 'me and the UN.'" Video here.
Ms. Okabe repeated, "I'm referring your questions to UNDP."
But seven hours later, UNDP's answer was in fact a non-answer:
"The statement posted earlier this week is clear on what the investigation found. I don't want to get into a he/said she/said with Ms. Herfkins. The funds in questions came from the Dutch government and not the United Nations. Those specific issues need to be worked out by those parties."
So Herfkens tells the Dutch she will not return the improperly received money, because "it is between me and the UN." But then the UN says it is between Herfkens and the Dutch. As it stands, it is the perfect crime. People have gone to jail for less...