Tuesday, March 31, 2009

UN Admits $3 Million Satyam Order Was An “Error,” Ledger Evidence Disappears

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, March 30 -- In the UN's contracting with the Indian Enron Satyam, a $3 million purchase order appeared and then disappeared, the UN has admitted to Inner City Press. But even the explanation raises more question. On March 23, Inner City Press asked UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq

Inner City Press: a Satyam question.  In reviewing the website of the Procurement Division, it seems like there was a contract reached for just over $6 million in July 2008, but there were two purchase orders of $3.3 million in June and July 2008... What explains the discrepancy between what was the purchase orders and the contracts? .. the deal that runs through 2013, has all the money in fact been paid and is there any provision for it to be returned?  It seems from this that the money was already actually paid out. 

Associate Spokesperson Haq:  Throughout the system the various bodies of the UN will wrap up the contracts.  The details of that may need some fine-tuning, it may need to be worked out in the coming months.  But, certainly, all the contracts are being wrapped to whatever extent that things that are already in the pipeline need to be completed, some will be completed, but it will all be shut down.

  Inner City Press asked, but why would the UN apparently have paid in advance for work to be done until 2013? The question arose in the context of the UN having misspoken earlier this month about its Procurement Division's coverage of the UN-affiliated International Computing Center, and belated admission that Satyam serves the UN through ICC contracts as well.

Two days after the question was raised, a further explanation was given:

UN's Ban and Microsoft's Gates, MS Word and $3 million not shown

Subject: Clarification from Procurement Division
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply @un.org>
To: Inner City Press
Sent: Wed, 25 Mar 2009 12:22 pm

We have the following clarification from the Procurement Division to a question that you asked earlier on Satyam:

We understand that there was a question raised by Mr. Lee of Inner City Press concerning our contract with Satyam at the noon briefing on Monday, 23 March 2009. Two (2) Purchase Orders in June and July 2008 referred to by Mr. Lee are identical. It is a duplicate of data entry inadvertently processed. The Purchase Order (P.O.) No. PS-14468 in the amount of US$3,300,500 was obligated (processed in our procurement management system and recorded in IMIS) in June 2008 but was signed in July 2008. We inadvertently picked up this P.O. twice in our reporting system.

This P.O. is what we call an internal P.O. to obligate the funds in connection with the Contract No. PD/CO102/08 with Satyam, which has the Not to Exceed (NTE) amount of US$6,025,933 effective 18 July 2008 for a term not less than five (5) years. We need to issue an internal P.O. to obligate the funds for payment purpose in IMIS since our contract document, which is produced in MS Word, has no technical interface and mechanism to record obligation in IMIS. Obligation of funds does not mean payment. A total of $3,300,500 was reserved for payment in conjunction with the contract and payment is processed only upon receipt and acceptance of services delivered. For your information, a total payment by the UN under this contract is $1,457,560 out of the contract NTE value of $6,025,933 as of today.

A duplicate entry of PS-14468 in June 2008 was removed from our Purchase Order Award in June 2008, as it is a genuine error.

    For the UN to acknowledge when it makes “a genuine error” is rare, and appreciated. But experts consulted by Inner City Press since receipt of the UN's “clarification” question, among other things, how changes can be made so cavalierly to the general ledger, and how this could have happened. We will continue to pursue it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A new job for Helen


OPINION Two years ago Helen Clark's chances of succeeding Kofi Annan as the United Nations secretary-general were being talked up strongly by a global women's cheerleading squad.

Equality Now placed the then New Zealand prime minister prominently on a shortlist of 18 women it saw as contenders for the position. None of them made it, with Korea's Ban Ki-Moon having the necessary geography - it being Asia's "turn" - and some would say gender for the top job.

However, the likelihood of Miss Clark winding up in the front carriage of the UN train if not actually in the driver's seat has been discussed for some time among the Wellington cocktail set. Her supporters, and Miss Clark herself, have got their wish with confirmation expected of her appointment as the head of the UN's Development Programme, the third highest position with the international body behind only the secretary-general and his deputy. It is the most prestigious global appointment landed by a New Zealander since another former Labour prime minister, Mike Moore, was made director-general of the World Trade Organisation.

As such, it is a significant coup for New Zealand and signals again that small countries can play important roles on the world stage. More, it reflects the regard in which the former university lecturer is held, both for her intellect and managerial ability. Miss Clark will oversee a $9 billion budget said to be the largest of any UN agency. The UNDP's work centres on poverty reduction, HIV/Aids, democratic governance, energy and the environment, crisis prevention and recovery, human rights and empowerment of women. It focuses strongly on the least developed areas and seeks to build networks and relationships between rich and poor nations. It has offices and staff in more than 160 countries.

The UN is a soft target for its many critics, who can point with justification to its inability to take effective action during humanitarian crises or against regimes that breach accepted international codes of behaviour. The UNDP itself has been hit over the past two years by allegations of corrupt or inappropriate operations in North Korea. Suggestions that UNDP money destined for that country's poor was helping to prop up the regime of Kim Jong Il, and even underpinning his nuclear development programme, led to an urgent inquiry by Mr Ban and calls for significantly greater transparency from the UN and its various agencies. Time will tell whether Miss Clark's no-nonsense managerial style will be transformational.

Her Labour Party colleagues might have mixed feelings about their former leader's employment coup. Miss Clark remains a formidable presence in the House, even if she has been winding things back in order to allow her successor, Phil Goff, to become established. However, as simply the opposition MP for Mt Albert, her talents and experience are under-used, and few among the party will begrudge her this success.

Her opponents might be equally keen to see her bow out of New Zealand politics. Prime Minister John Key was quick to offer his government's support for her campaign for the position, and perhaps not only because he wanted her out of the debating chamber. He described her as a strong candidate when news of her shortlisting broke last month, and lobbied on her behalf. Miss Clark is expected to take up her new position this year, meaning a byelection in the Labour stronghold of Mt Albert. That in itself will be an interesting test of the two main parties' standings, perhaps a year or so after the general election.

'Melkert grijpt naast topfunctie'

NEW YORK -  Ad Melkert grijpt naast de functie van topman van de UNDP, de ontwikkelingsorganisatie van de Verenigde Naties.Ondanks grote diplomatieke druk van Nederlandse zijde heeft VN-secretaris-generaal Ban Ki Moon gekozen voor de Nieuw-Zeelandse oud-premier Helen Clark.

Die wordt daarmee de eerste vrouw die op deze hoge VN-functie. Het afwijzen van Melkert als eerste man is een bittere pil voor ons land dat al sinds jaar en dag een van de grootste donoren is van de ontwikkelingsorganisatie van de Verenigde Naties. Om die reden dacht Nederland dan ook grote kans te maken. Vooral daar uit diplomatiek verkeer tussen de belangrijkste landen zoals de Verenigde Staten bleek dat geen enkel land tegen Melkert was.

De uiteindelijke beslissing is echter aan Ban Ki Moon en die had kennelijk behoefte aan een vrouw op deze hoge functie, die tot de hoogste in de internationale gemeenschap behoort.

Ook Melkert heeft de afgelopen maanden uitgebreid bij de verschillende landen gepleit voor zijn zaak. Zo zeer zelfs dat hij op volgens bronnen binnen de UNDP op enig moment is teruggefloten door de secretaris-generaal. Die vond het geen pas hebben dat een kandidaat, die al in functie is bij de UNDP, openlijk voor zichzelf solliciteert. Melkert, die volgens wel ingelichte bronnen, zeer teleurgesteld is, is tweede man bij de UNDP. Een baan die hij tot grote tevredenheid van de internationale gemeenschap vervult. Hij hervormde de organisatie in New York. Toen hij twee jaar geleden onder vuur kwam te liggen om vermeende betrokknheid bij gesjoemel met harde valuta in Noord Korea, slaagde hij door behendig manoeuvreren zijn naam te zuiveren. De beschuldigingen kwamen uit de koker van neo-conservatieve krachten in de voormalige regering Bush. Zij zagen Melkert als de kwade genius achter het wippen van de Wereldbank-directeur Wolfowitz.

Melkert grijpt naast baan als topman UNDP

(Novum/AP) - Ad Melkert lijkt te worden gepasseerd als nieuwe topman van het UNDP, de ontwikkelingsorganisatie van de Verenigde Naties. Momenteel is Melkert de tweede man bij het UNDP, maar Ban Ki-moon, secretaris-generaal van de VN, geeft volgens Nieuw-Zeelandse media de voorkeur aan de voormalige premier van Nieuw-Zeeland Helen Clark als opvolger van de Turk Kemal Dervis.

Naar verwachting wordt Clark vrijdag benoemd. De VN wil nog niet bevestigen dat de keuze op haar is gevallen.

Melkert is sinds 1 maart 2006 de tweede man van het UNDP, dat zich in 166 landen inzet om armoede te bestrijden, mensenrechten te bevorderen en het milieu te beschermen. Daarvoor werkte hij bij de Wereldbank in Washington. Melkert was bij de verkiezingen van 2002 lijsttrekker van de PvdA, dat toen een dramatische verkiezingsnederlaag leed.

De Telegraaf meldt donderdag op basis van anonieme bronnen dat Nederland grote diplomatieke druk heeft uitgeoefend om Melkert de functie te laten krijgen. Melkert zou zeer teleurgesteld zijn dat hij naast de baan heeft gegrepen. Ban Ki-moon zou echter een vrouw aan het hoofd van het UNDP hebben willen hebben. Daarom was Clark, die eerder al haar interesse uitsprak in de functie, de voornaamste kandidaat.

VN stellen besluit over opvolging Melkert uit

AUCKLAND (ANP) - De Verenigde Naties hebben hun besluit over de nieuwe baas van de VN-ontwikkelingsorganisatie UNDP uitgesteld. Volgens Nieuw-Zeelandse media zal pas vrijdagochtend plaatselijke tijd (donderdagavond Nederlandse tijd) bekend worden gemaakt dat de Nieuw-Zeelandse oud-premier Helen Clark de post gaat bekleden, die nu tijdelijk door de Nederlander Ad Melkert wordt uitgeoefend.

Nieuw-Zeelandse media hadden eerder al gemeld dat de benoeming rond is. De bekendmaking was voor donderdag plaatselijke tijd verwacht. Maar het bestuur van de UNDP en de Algemene Vergadering van de VN moeten zich nog uitspreken over de nieuwe baas, aldus een VN-woordvoerder. Clark was van 1999 tot 2008 regeringsleider.

Melkert loopt topbaan UNDP mis

NEW YORK - Ad Melkert heeft de strijd om het leiderschap van het UNDP verloren. Dat is woensdag bekend geworden. Melkert is sinds 2006 de tweede man van deze hulporganisatie van de VN. Hij had zich kandidaat gesteld voor de topfunctie, maar alles wijst erop dat Helen Clark, de 59-jarige oud-premier van Nieuw-Zeeland, de huidige directeur Kemal Dervis opvolgt.

Secretaris-generaal Ban Ki-moon van de VN heeft Clark nog niet formeel bemoemd, maar anonieme bronnen bevestigen dat Melkert aan het kortste eind heeft getrokken. Nederland – en Melkert zelf – lobbyden actief voor de prestigieuze functie. Maar er is besloten geen formeel bezwaar aan te tekenen.

De UNDP is de ontwikkelingsorganisatie van de VN en beheert een budget van 5 miljard euro.

Melkert grijpt naast topfunctie

AMSTERDAM -  Oud-PvdA-leider Ad Melkert wordt niet de nieuwe baas van UNDP, de ontwikkelingsorganisatie van de Verenigde Naties.

De keus is gevallen op voormailig premier Helen Clark. Dat zal VN-chef Ban Ki-Moon volgens Nieuw-Zeelandse media vrijdagochtend plaatselijke tijd (donderdagavond Nederlandse tijd) bekendmaken.

Nieuw-Zeelandse media hadden eerder al gemeld dat de benoeming rond is. De bekendmaking was voor donderdag plaatselijke tijd verwacht.

Clark wordt de eerste vrouw op deze hoge VN-positie. Melkert werd in 2006 benoemd tot tweede man bij de organisatie.

At UNDP, With Kiwi Clark Called Top Spot Winner, Melkert Policies Need Revamp

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, March 25 -- Across the Pacific, media reports on Tuesday night had New Zealand's Helen Clark beating out Ad Melkert for the top post at the UN Development Program. Bloomberg News quoted "a UN official" to this effect; a major newspaper said the appointment would be announced Wednesday in New York. It wasn't. Inner City Press asked the UN spokesperson:

Inner City Press: it’s been widely reported that Helen Clark of New Zealand is going to be named the new Administrator [of UNDP].  It was even said today, all the papers in the Pacific said this.  When is the appointment expected?

Spokesperson:  The appointment has not been finalized yet.  We expect to have it tomorrow.

  If, as it portrayed as clear, Helen Clark has won, one can only hope that Melkert, architect of UNDP's recent retaliation and non-disclosure regime, will exit the agency, where he came in second to Kemal Dervis in a more transparent selection process under Kofi Annan, then used UNDP resources to defend his previous acts at the World Bank and before that in the Netherlands.  While her views on belatedly harmonizing UNDP with the UN Secretariat's Ethics Office and whistleblower protection regime are not yet known, Clark could not do worse than Melkert and Dervis in this regard.

   As just the most recent example, UNDP has for days refused to provide basic information about what it funds in Somalia, even as UN envoy Ahmedou Ould Abdallah through his spokesperson refers the question to UNDP, and even experts previously funded by the UN say openly that UNDP has been funding security forces in Somalia until, viewed as taking sides, it was targeted for bombing.

UN's Ban and Helen Clark in 2008, interview answers not shown

  As for Mr. Melkert, he was the one who, when asked by Inner City Press about transparency, said "you ain't seen nothing yet."  Now it looks like we never will.

Footnote: on one of the two appointments that were announced at the UN on March 25, Inner City Press asked

Inner City Press: I had asked before it was confirmed that he was getting the post, Mr. Galbraith, it says in his bio that he was the United States Ambassador to Croatia in 92 to 98.  He was asked by the United States Congress in 96 if he had violated the UN arms embargo and sanctions on Croatia by helping Iranian weapons get in. His answer was that he didn’t violate it because Chapter VI of the UN Charter is not binding.  Is that Ban Ki-moon’s position on Chapter VI?

Spokesperson:  I’m not judging on what happened that time.  What I’m saying is that all those concerns were certainly analysed when the decision was taken to appoint Mr. Galbraith.

Inner City Press? Did they ask him… For example, has he been asked whether, now that he is a UN, you said an international civil servant…?

Spokesperson:  I don’t have the details of his last interview.  What I am saying is that what was of importance to the UN is the role he has played for the UN before.

  At least for the post of UNDP administrator, the interviews were said to be coordinated by Ban Ki-moon's deputy chief of staff Kim Won-soo, who Wednesday was embroiled in a controversy triggered by Ban's seeming retraction of a written request to the G-20 members for $1 trillion for poorer countries. One wonders, and expects to find out, what issues came up in the interviews. Watch this site.

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN debate (including re UNDP)

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lankahttp://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

UN's Ban Retracts $1 Trillion Request, UK's Brown Touts Plan of World Bank, Not UN

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, March 25 -- UN Secretary General Ban on March 25 backed away from a $1 trillion request he made in a March 20 letter to the participants in the upcoming meeting in London. Moments after UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that, as he prepared to travel to Brazil and Chile, it is too early to put a number on what poorer countries will need, Ban Ki-moon was asked to confirm his $1 trillion request, contained not only in the March 20 letter but also in a Financial Times article placed online earlier on Wednesday. He said "at this time I am not in a position to say anything in exact amount terms."

   That was that last question his spokesperson allowed, so it was not possible to ask what had changed between his use of the $1 trillion amount in the March 20 letter and an interview with the Financial Times that day and his meeting with Gordon Brown five days later.

   To some, it was reminiscent of a similar about-face triggered earlier this month when, in a closed-door meeting with the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ban read from talking points that the U.S. is "a deadbeat" which owes the UN between $1 billion and $1.6 billion. That night, his spokesperson's office put an an e-mail to reporters "clarifying" that Ban respects the U.S.'s contributions. Hours later, President Barack Obama's spokesman Robert Gibbs called Ban's use of the word deadbeat "unfortunate" and suggested that he make clear his gratitude to the U.S..

  Here, a word from Gordon Brown that perhaps the number should have been given out -- to the UK-based Financial Times -- led to a de facto retraction. How should the recipients of Ban's March 20 letter now read it?

UN's Ban and UK's Brown in Davos, before this Trillion-Gate

   Just as Inner City Press dug into "deadbeat-gate" by asking who wrote Ban's talking points -- numerous UN sources pointed the finger at the UN Information Center in Washington -- Inner City Press understands, from multiple sources, that Ban in his March 20 interview gave the $1 trillion figure on an "exclusive basis," adding that it should be held for some time closer to the G-20 meeting.

   This exchange of delay for exclusivity was then altered by a decision, on March 24, to release the $1 trillion figure in connection with Ban's meeting and press availability with Gordon Brown on the afternoon of March 25. Beating that deadline, the Financial Times published the quote and letter with the $1 trillion figure, which Ban proceeded to implicitly deny or retract. Can we call it "trillion-gate"? 

  Looking through the -Gate, Ban's $1 trillion, while a suspiciously round number, appears to consist most of pre-existing commitments, such as those made at Gleneagles, and to include loans by the World Bank and IMF.  The World Bank's Bob Zoelick weeks ago proposed that 0.7%  of rich countries' bailouts and stimulus packages should go toward a "Vulnerability Fund" for poorer countries. Click here for Inner City Press' February story on that.

  Notably, Gordon Brown endorsed the World Bank's Zoelick's, and not the UN's Ban's, proposal on Wednesday. Another UN body, appointed by the President of the General Assembly and former Nicaraguan foreign minister Miguel d'Escoto Brockman and chaired by Joseph Stiglitz, raises Zoelick's stakes to a full 1% of countries' bailouts and stimulus packages. That still doesn't approach Ban's seemingly arbitrary $1 trillion figure, which may explain the Trillion's unceremonious retraction. Which of its various shifting plans the UN actually promotes, and with what effect, at the G-20 in London remains to be seen.

Footnote: to continue with Deadbeat-Gate, while Ban and his officials including from Peacekeeping used a figure on Capitol Hill this month that the U.S. owes $1.6 billion to the UN, when a reporter asked Ban's spokesperson for a breakdown, the answer was that the information was available "upstairs" in the Spokesperson's Office. But up there the referral was to the UNA-USA lobbying organization. Senior UN officials told Inner City Press on March 25 that the real debt is $1.1 billion, and expressed surprise that the UN would use another figure and then hide behind an "outside NGO." The UN's work is often important, but this is no way to run this ship.

Get used to it Ad Melkert !


In Somalia, UNDP Said to Take Sides, No Financial Answers, UN Post Intrigue

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, March 24 -- Optimism about Somalia is a new trend in and around the in UN in New York. Days after the country's new foreign minister -- himself British -- told the Press outside the Security Council that one month of receipts from the Mogadishu port portends well for the paychecks of the Transitional Federal Government's ever multiplying number of parliamentarians, the International Peace Institute presented two experts, both upbeat about the negotiations in Djibouti and the UN which sponsored them.

  As at the Council, however, no one would say how many the UN paid, from or to whom. IPI's two presenters, Ken Menkhaus of Davidson College and Somali expert Jabril Abdulle, both said that the Shabaab rebels are on the run, the port is in government hands and the future is rosy. Inner City Press asked for an assessment of the performance of UN envoy Ahmedou Ould Abdallah and the UN's Group of Experts on sanctions. The former called for a moratorium on reporting from Somalia; the later reported a few years ago that Somali militants were in South Lebanon for training, which made more Somali-watchers laugh.

   Menkhaus defended the Group of Experts recent work, dismissing the Lebanon error -- since 2006 -- as "in the distant past." He did, however, sound a cautionary note about the role of the UN Development Program, which he said has been paying the salaries of security forces in Somalia. Abdulle added that the UN paid to transport the bloated Somali TFG contingent from Djibouti to Mogadishu. On Friday, Inner City Press' question to Ould Abdallah about what the UN pays for in Somalia was referred, through his spokesperson Susie Price, to UNDP. Four days after promising an answer, UNDP has still not answered.

Somalia's FM in UNSC on March 20, financial disclosure not shown

  Menkhaus noted the attack on UNDP last year, and said the agency is perceived as taking sides. Perhaps this partiality is mirrored in an unwillingly to provide basic financial information about what is spends in Somalia, and on what.

Footnote: The head of IPI, Terje Roed Larsen, was not in attendance on Tuesday. Inner City Press has asked UN spokespeople for reaction to Syria's critique of Roed Larsen as exceeding him mandate as UN envoy under Security Council resolution 1559. Roed Larsen is also one of the most senior UN officials who has rebuffed Ban Ki-moon's call to make basic public financial disclosure. Now, Roed Larsen's wife Mona Juul is rumored as a closed by failed candidate for the vacant Assistant Secretary General post in the UN Department of Political Affairs vacated by Angela Kane. The post, sources say, is slated for UNDP's previous Middle East operative, Oscar Fernandez Taranco, well imbued in UNDP's culture. We'll see.

Deadbeats of the World, Unite!

It speaks volumes about the mindset of UN top management that Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has just delivered himself of his most articulate statement since he took office — and the gist of it was to insult America, the UN’s biggest sugar-daddy, as a “deadbeat.”

Ban was in Washington, following up a mutual back-patting session with President Obama by complaining to members of Congress that the U.S. is behind on its dues. Bear in mind that the assessed dues paid by the U.S., which come to 22% of Ban’s record-breaking core budget, are the biggest share paid by any of the UN’s 192 member states — and monumentally more than most. Bear in mind that those dues are just a small fraction of the billions upon billions that the U.S. actually forks over every year to the UN in the form of additional funds — including voluntary contributions, support for UN agencies, special programs, donations to emergency appeals, peacekeeping and whatnot. Bear in mind that while American taxpayers have been tightening their belts, the UN has been demanding and spending their money at record-breaking rates.

Plus, to keep Ban comfortable as he formulates his complaints, America provides the frill of lavish living quarters in midtown Manhattan for the tax-exempt Ban Ki-Moon himself. Then there’s the landmark UN headquarters now undergoing an extravagant $2 billion renovation for which America taxpayers are likely to foot most of the bill (granted, that doesn’t do much for the cause of world poverty, but it certainly does enhance the ample comforts of the UN bureaucracy — Ban included — in New York).

But OK, that’s the entitlement mentality for you. The real problem is how the UN handles — or mishandles — the torrent of American money it already enjoys every year. There is no transparency, there is almost no accountability. For hours of fun, check out Ban Ki-Moon’s vaunted “public disclosure” initiative — in which top UN officials are invited to disclose their own finances to the public. Even the most forthcoming are too generic to tell you much. But the most entertaining cases are those of UN officials whose “disclosure” consists of ticking a box which says they are exercising their option not to disclose anything except their refusal to disclose. For instance, the deputy head of UNICEF, Omar Abdi; or Ban’s special adviser (Kofi Annan’s former chief of staff, who shredded years worth of executive suite documents during the Oil-for-Food investigations) Iqbal Riza

If you actually try to figure out the extent of the UN’s system-wide budget, you will quickly discover that in the maze of inter-agency fees, contributions, opaque programs, awol inventories, bizarre procurement arrangements, haze of consultancy contracts, plethora of per diems, tardy and vague public audits, erratic and secret internal audits, and extra-budgetary add-ons, doo-dads, whistles and peace bells, there is for all practical purposes no way to do it. The best estimate we’ve had in recent years was a statement from Kofi Annan in 2006 that the system-wide budget came to about $20 billion. America pays the biggest share — roughly one-quarter of all that dosh.

What does the UN deliver in return?

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen put out a press release on Ban’s deadbeat remark, which pretty well sums up the scene. Excerpts here:

“Last year, American taxpayers ponied up nearly $5 billion for the UN system. The U.S. is by far the world’s largest donor to the UN. The U.S. provides other assistance for peacekeeping operations. The U.S. responds to emergency appeals. We are always on deck.

 “Yet, the head of the UN comes to Congress and scolds us for not doing enough? He demands yet more money from us while making little progress in cleaning up the badly-broken UN?

 “The UN’s ineffectiveness is not from a lack of cash, but the result of a corrupt system which wastes money and apologizes for dictatorships.

 “The UN has been hijacked by a rogues’ gallery that uses our funds to undermine peace and security. Dictatorships use the Human Rights Council and Durban 2 conference process to restrict universal freedoms and protect extremists. The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) aids violent Islamists and partners with money-laundering banks under U.S. sanctions or under U.S. investigation for financing Islamist militants. The UN Development Program (UNDP) pays the legal fees of its corrupt officials but refuses to protect whistleblowers.

 “While Iran, Syria, and North Korea endanger the entire world, the UN is pre-occupied with condemning democratic states like the U.S. and Israel.”

To this, we might add the news item that in the rigged “election” process for choosing the president of the UN General Assembly, it looks like a done deal that the winner for 2009-2010 will be Libya (I’m not kidding … more in my Forbes.com column this week on “The U.N.’s Year of Libya“). On this, Ban has uttered not a word of dismay.

There’s a lot of scope here for enhancing chances of world peace and progress simply by cutting off money for the UN. Deadbeats of the world, unite!

Depotism offsets - Maurice can get traded?

Beyond CO2: Let's Try a UN Program for Trading Corruption Offsets 

While many are struggling to fend off the climate-change hysterics, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been helpfully reminding us that the UN would love to offer its services as the command center for a grand plan to control the weather of the entire planet. 

He’s got to be kidding. This is the same UN you shouldn’t leave alone with your kid’s piggybank. This is the UN that won’t account for its own money (well, actually, it won’t account for your money), covered up graft during seven years of Oil-for-Food, didn’t notice the bribe shop in its own procurement department, had a now-convicted money-launderer as head of the budget oversight committee, and has yet to explain why UN Development Program officials were storing counterfeit $100 bills in their Pyongyang office safe. 

But the UN has spotted a way to squeeze money out of traffic in hype and hot air. Having laid the groundwork — courtesy of Maurice Strong and his pals — for the usual arrangements of penalizing the U.S. while rewarding dictators, the UN is now positioning itself to preside as a global clearing house for trade in carbon dioxide emission offsets. 

Hey, why stop there? There’s more to the world climate than just the weather — there’s also a financial environment, political environment, and even a moral ethos, in which carbon dioxide is the least of the vapors. How about a UN program to trade corruption offsets? Despotism offsets? 

By Claudia Rosett

Ad Melkert - UNDP's Rasputin lost his race to the top.......


New Zealand’s Clark to Run UN Development Agency, Official Says


By Bill Varner

March 25 (Bloomberg) -- Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark will be named today as the next administrator of the United Nations Development Program by Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon, according to a UN official.

Clark, who lost the 2008 general election after nine years as prime minister, will be approved by the agency’s board and then by the UN General Assembly, according to the official, who spoke on condition of not being identified before Ban makes the announcement.

New Zealand’s National Party defeated Clark’s Labour Party in a Nov. 8 election, with former Merrill Lynch & Co. trader John Key ending her tenure as prime minister after the economy fell into recession. Clark was seeking to become the first Labour Party leader to win four elections after winning power in 1999. She has led the party since 1993.

The UNDP’s annual budget of more than $1 billion is based on voluntary contributions. It has projects in 165 nations.

The agency’s administrator is one of the UN’s highest ranked officials after the secretary-general and deputy secretary-general. Clark’s priority will be achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, which include halving world poverty and hunger by 2015.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Varner at the United Nations atwvarner@bloomberg.net

Former NZ PM Clark to get top U.N. job - media

WELLINGTON, March 25 (Reuters) - Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark will be named as the head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), local media reported on Wednesday.

The main television and radio networks said Clark, prime minister from 1999 until 2008, would be named by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon within the coming day.

"The selection process is very close to reaching its conclusion but the UN Secretary General has not yet made his preference public," a spokesman for Clark told the NZ Press Association.

Clark, whose nine-year old centre-left Labour-led government was ousted in last November's election, had been backed for the post by the new National-led government. She quit as head of the party after the election loss.

Clark was said to have emerged as the favoured candidate after major donors put their support behind her.

The UNDP is the U.N.'s agency global development network, providing training, advice, and support for developing countries.

The UNDP Administrator is the third highest post in the United Nations.

Clark, 59, a former political studies lecturer with a passion for mountaineering, has been a member of parliament since 1981 and was New Zealand's first elected female leader.

She has had a reputation as a passionless intellectual, but has won respect for calm demeanour and formidable intellect.

Under her leadership New Zealand charted a more independent foreign policy, although it improved relations with the United States, ruptured since the mid-1980s as a result of New Zealand's anti-nuclear policy.

She opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, but commited New Zealand special forces to fight in Afghanistan. (Reporting by Gyles Beckford; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Satyam Created Thousands Of Fake Invoices, Report Says

Scandal-scarred Satyam generated thousands of fake customer invoices as part of a scam to falsely inflate revenue and profits, according to a report.

India's Economic Times, citing sources close to India's Central Bureau of Investigation, said the agency has retrieved more than 7,000 fake invoices and numerous other spurious documents over the past several weeks.

More Global CIO InsightsWhite PapersBest Practices for Leveraging Business Analytics in Today’s and Tomorrow’s Insurance Sector Reducing the Cost of AML Compliance The upshot: The total size of Satyam's deception is now approaching $2 billion, according to the paper. Investigators originally put the number significantly below that based on statements from Satyam officials.

On Jan. 7, Satyam chairman Ramalinga Raju admitted falsifying the company's cash position by as much as $1 billion while overstating quarterly earnings and revenue by up to 28%. Satyam may also have faked employee numbers and other data. Raju tendered his resignation and has since been arrested and jailed.

He's now in the custody of CBI, India's version of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Other Satyam officers, and two employees of PricewaterhouseCoopers India, also have been detained in connection with the case.

Increasingly nervous Satyam customers are looking for alternatives in case the outsourcer is unable to restore internal stability or find a buyer with pockets deep enough to see the Indian company through its current crisis.

The latest Satyam customer to consider alternatives is Selective Insurance Co., the 47th largest property and casualty insurance company in the United States. Selective has outsourced about a quarter of its IT staffing requirements to Satyam, but it may be looking for other arrangements in light of Satyam's woes.

"We believe we would be able to manage an efficient transition to a new vendor and not experience a significant negative impact to our operations in the event that we no longer retain Satyam in their current capacity due to the financial issues they are currently experiencing," Selective said in papers filed Feb. 27 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Selective Insurance is but the latest in a growing list of Satyam customers that may head for the exit.

Gadget maker SanDisk recently warned investors that Satyam's troubles have put its business operations at risk.

Krishan Batra - the SATYAM insider at UNDP inflated the number of SATYAM Employees contracted by the organization

Krishan Batra - the Chair of UNDP Procurement task force - has allowed that SATYAM - who is a UNDP contractor to divert hundreds of thousands of dollars from the United Nations Development Programme through inflating the number of employees who withdraw cash (monthly salaries) from UNDP. 

SATYAM - an indian software company has been contracted by UNDP, despite the fact that they were debarred from doing business with World Bank since 2007. 

Many of UNDP Staffers who work along SATYAM employees at IT Unit declare that the "Satyam guys are never here and even when they come to work they are always less numbered than the contract has determined". 

But when the monthly contractor performance evaluation is made, SATYAM declares full bill and UNDP Administration Unit always "pays in full".

Another disturbing element is that SATYAM employees who were/are supposed to work for UNDP have entered the United States territory with G4 visas as United Nations Contractors. While sources report that many of these employees undertake other contracts as well outside the UNDP, while allegedly they are suppose to work full time for UNDP.

Sources say that in the last week, Krishan has been extremely busy in trying to clean up all documents related to SATYAM. Also sources say that he has been three times in the last two weeks in contact with Human Resources as well as Comptroller on Satyam.

It's impossible to understand why UNDP would allow such actions from Krishan Batra, unless someone in high administration is making a direct profit from it. 

We call on OIOS and Investigation Unit to Immediately investigate all the above. 

Satyam saga gets murkier

Posted by Mark Sutton on 24 March 2009 at 11:35 UAE time.

Investigators into the Satyam fraud have reportedly said that they now believe the amount involved to be closer to $2 billion, rather than the $1 billion originally that chairman Ramalinga Raju had actually confessed to stealing. They also say that they have uncovered more than 7,000 fake customer invoices and other documents related to the fraud.

Given the sheer level of the fraud, and the complex web of companies that appear to have been used to syphon off funds from Satyam, its a wonder no-one thought to question the amount that Raju admitted to taking before now - and the assertion that his family didn’t benefit from the fraud looks laughable, if only this were a laughing matter.

The news couldn’t have come at a worse time for Satyam, as it moves into the next stage of trying to find a buyer to rescue it. The company is due to shortlist bidders from six that have so far registered, and it desperately needs to get the stability of a new majority shareholder to help stabilize it. Already more customers, including the US Selective Insurance Group, have stated their intention to ditch Satyam. The Economic Times reports that 46 Satyam customers including Applied Materials, Kansas State Bank, Telstra, Emerson, Nissan, State Farm Insurance and Sony have all either dropped Satyam or are in the process of moving work elsewhere.

The full extent of this fraud needs to be uncovered, particularly the role of the auditors, and the people responsible must be punished. But it does seem that Satyam as an ongoing concern viable business, and the interest of so many bidders would seem to suggest it’s seen as viable, is becoming irreversibly damaged by these revelations. For buyers to continue with the bidding process when the extent of the fraud is only just becoming apparent would seem to be irresponsible - yet unless Satyam gets some sort of stability, the list of ex-customers is just going to get longer.

The Indian government has so far kept a light touch on the rescue process - now would seem to be the time for it to step in and provide more support and stability to Satyam, to safeguard jobs and the reputation of the outsourcing industry.

KRISHAM BATRA IS CORRUPT: Selective Insurance, the latest Satyam customer seeking exit

HYDERABAD: Selective Insurance Group, one of the biggest property and casualty insurers in the US is seeking to replace its outsourcing contract 
with Satyam Computer Services. 

In a report filed with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last month, Branchville, New Jersey-based insurer said that Satyam accounts for almost a quarter of the company’s IT work. 

“We believe we would be able to manage an efficient transition to a new vendor and not experience a significant negative impact to ouroperations in the event that we no longer retain Satyam in their current capacity due to the financial issues they are currently experiencing,” the company said in its regulatory filing. 

As reported by ET recently, around 46 customers have either completely exited, or are in the process of moving their outsourcing contracts from Satyam to rival tech firms such as IBM, TCS, Wipro, Infosys and Accenture. 

Potential bidders for Satyam such as Tech Mahindra, L&T, Spice and several private equity firms are readying their strategy for taking over a majority stake in Satyam, and their financial bids will depend a lot upon the amount of business Satyam has from around 695 existing customers, last reported during company s financial results for quarter ended September last year. 

KRISHAM BATRA IS CORRUPT: UN to Have No Further Dealings With Satyam

MUMBAI -- The United Nations has said it has decided to have "no further dealings" with Satyam Computer Services Ltd., becoming the second client known to have canceled its outsourcing contracts with the Indian software exporter.

"Throughout the system, the various bodies of the UN will wrap up the contracts. The details of that may need some fine-tuning, it may need to be worked out in the coming months," the UN's associate spokesperson said at a press conference in New York on Monday. The transcript of the briefing was seen by Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday.

A Satyam spokeswoman declined to comment.

Hyderabad-based Satyam, once India's fourth-largest software exporter by revenue, has been in turmoil after its founder B. Ramalinga Raju revealed in January he overstated its profits over several years and created a fictitious cash balance of more than $1 billion. It is now scouting for a buyer who will infuse funds and help revive the firm.

Since the fraud was revealed, one of the main tasks of the new government-appointed board at Satyam has been to retain clients. U.S. State Farm Insurance is the only company known to have terminated its outsourcing contract with Satyam.

Satyam Chairman Kiran Karnik had said in January that the company has received notices for terminating technology outsourcing contracts from two clients, without giving details.

Satyam's clients include several Fortune 500 companies such as General Electric Co., General Motors Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Applied Materials Inc. and Citigroup Inc. Some of its clients in the Asia-Pacific region include Telstra Corp., National Australia Bank Ltd. and Qantas Airways Ltd.

A Mumbai-based analyst, who asked not to be named, said Satyam's UN contract was "miniscule" and that the cancellation wouldn't have "any material impact" on the company's revenue, but could have "sentimental impact."

Indian software exporters' revenue growth has been slowing as their global clients - under pressure to cut costs - have reduced spending on information technology.

"The rate of growth (for the industry)...is half of what it used to be in the past few years" - around 20% this year compared with 40% in the past, according to a letter from the company to new hires. "Added to this was an unprecedented set of events in the organization over the past few weeks."

The company has, therefore, decided to defer until further notice the joining dates of about 9,000 fresh graduates to whom it had offered jobs, according to the letter, seen by Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday.

"This scenario, combined with the continuing volatility in the business environment, necessitates that we optimize available resources internally and critically reexamine additional requirements on an ongoing, quarterly basis," the letter, dated March 23, said.

Satyam, which has more than 50,000 employees, and its Indian rivals have almost stopped hiring experienced staff in a bid to reduce costs and protect operating margins.

They are mostly recruiting fresh graduates who are hired at much lower salaries, but the global situation has forced them to curtail even such hiring.

"While unfortunate, it has also been unavoidable," said the letter from Satyam's global head of human resources, S. V. Krishnan. The decision was taken after "extensive deliberations and only after all other practical options were exhausted," it added.

A Satyam spokeswoman declined to comment on the letter.

The graduates were to join the company from late December 2008 to early 2009, a person familiar with the matter told Dow Jones Newswires, asking not to be named.

"The offer letters were given during December 2007 to June 2008," the person said.

Write to Romit Guha at romit.guha@dowjones.com and Deepali Gupta atdeepali.gupta@dowjones.com

KRISHAN BATRAA IS CORRUPT: At UN, More Questions About Satyam Contracts and Procurement Orders Arise

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, March 23 -- As the scandals around Satyam, the so-called Indian Enron, continue to gather force,further discrepancies emerged on Monday about the Satyam contracts with the United Nations which the UN has said it is cancelling. At Monday's UN noon briefing Inner City Press asked UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq

Inner City Press: a Satyam question.  In reviewing the website of the Procurement Division, it seems like there was a contract reached for just over $6 million in July 2008, but there were two purchase orders of $3.3 million in June and July 2008.  So some are saying that this means that… Was the full $6 million… Was $6 million and more actually paid already to Satyam under that contract?  And two, what explains the discrepancy between what was the purchase orders and the contracts?

Associate Spokesperson Haq:  I am not going to get too much into the details of the Satyam deals, just to let you know that all throughout the UN system we’d taken the decision not to have further dealings with Satyam.  So the current deals that had been previously made are all being wrapped up.  And so that’s where we stand on that.

Inner City Press: So exactly on that point -- I don’t want to go on and on and on -- but the deal that runs through 2013, has all the money in fact been paid and is there any provision for it to be returned?  It seems from this that the money was already actually paid out.  So what wrapping up would mean is not clear to some people.

Associate Spokesperson Haq:  Throughout the system the various bodies of the UN will wrap up the contracts.  The details of that may need some fine-tuning, it may need to be worked out in the coming months.  But, certainly, all the contracts are being wrapped to whatever extent that things that are already in the pipeline need to be completed, some will be completed, but it will all be shut down.

  But why would the UN apparently have paid in advance for work to be done until 2013? What of the seeming $600,000 discrepancy? The questions arise in the context of the UN having misspoken earlier this month about its Procurement Division's coverage of the UN-affiliated International Computing Center, and belated admission that Satyam serves the UN through ICC contracts as well. Developing.

3 News: - Clark in line for top UN job (UNDP)


Former Prime Minister Helen Ms Clark is in the running for a top United Nations job.

Two weeks ago 3 News reported she was on a short-list of three for the post of “Director Of The UN’s Development Programme” – the number three spot in the UN’s hierarchy.

An appointment is expected in the next month but Prime Minister John Key says he has heard nothing yet – just rumours.

“It is a decision for Ban Ki Moon,” says Mr Key, referring to the UN’s Secretary General, who is also a Korean.

Ms Clark is said to have the support of the Koreans, after meeting with their President last week, and they are lobbying the Secretary General for her appointment.

Ms Clark has remained tight-lipped about the possibility.

“There’s a process to follow and it’s competitive,” she says.

Mr Key is graciously admitting his former rival is talented and has international support.

“She is obviously held in high regard and is a woman with many talents,” he says.

One of those in the final three is an American but it is understood the American administration has no objections to Ms Clark taking the role – something that is regarded as crucial.

Ms Clark is currently in Germany and speaking to an international conference.

But all the diplomatic circles are buzzing that Ms Clark is the favoured candidate and an announcement is not far off.

For now though – Ms Clark, the Labour Party and even Mr Key do not want to blow her trumpet too soon.

3 News