Saturday, January 24, 2009

Kim Jong-Il to reinstall ATM machines in Pyongyang

The UN’s own personal ATM for Kim Jong-il is returning to North Korea:

The U.N. Development Program (UNDP) will likely resume stalled operations in North Korea in March.

The executive board of the UNDP held its first regular session this year on Friday in which it approved the resumption of UNDP operations in North Korea.

The program’s presence in the North has been suspended since March 2007, when its staff was withdrawn following U.S. allegations of funds embezzlement by Pyongyang.

The executive boards said the final approval came after Pyongyang successfully met the four preconditions for resumption set by the program, including third-party audits.

An official at the South Korean mission to the United Nations said that if the UNDP resumes its operations in North Korea, the program will be in charge of the activities of the other UN agencies there.  [KBS Global]

For those not familiar with this scandal basically the UN staffers in Pyongyang were giving millions of dollars to North Korea for “developmental projects” in the country.  However, for whatever reason the UN staffers were allowing North Korea to deposit the money in a North Korean bank and were allowed no oversight of the bank records.  Additionally the UN staffers were not allowed to inspect the status of the “developmental projects”.  So basically this UN crew in Pyongyang was Kim Jong-il’s own personal ATM.

A US Senate probe would later find out that much of the UNDP’s money was linked to arms sales by the North Koreans.    The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon vowed to get to the bottom of the scandal and of course as far as I can tell no one has ever been held accountable for the fraud and the ATM is about to open for business again in North Korea.

The aftermath of this fraud was so bad that the Wall Street Journal declared this incident Ban’s first cover up.  With all his practice covering up for the North Koreans while he served under the Roh Moo-hyun adminstration in South Korea is it any surprise?

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