Uncle Helen has been busted over at the UNDP watch blog for receiving gifts while on her overseas trips and not disclosing them. The gifts are said to be worth several hundred dollars apiece and maybe over $1000. And we are talking US$.
Funny thing is, as the blog notes itself, UN staffers do not have to disclose such gifts. On top of first class flights and a salary exceeding that of Eurocrats or Hillary Clinton, Uncle does seem on a nice little earner.
But surely, if she does not have to declare such gifts, what is to stop her from being unduly influenced by a particularly generous gift. What safeguards stop this? How can anyone check? Can it be all on trust?
This latest controversy comes on top of corruption and waste involving charity funds involving the UNDP, as reported by the Associated Press and others and picked up by RedBaiter of TrueBlueNZ.
They note some curious practices at the UNDP.
An AP investigation last year found the United Nations cut back severely on investigations into corruption and fraud within its ranks, shelving cases involving the possible theft or misuse of millions of dollars. That happened after the U.N. dismantled its anti-corruption Procurement Task Force at the end of 2008.
Mmmm. Helen Clark got the UNDP job in March 2009.
And as well as fraud, we get secrecy.
Parsons said that money — roughly a fifth of the fund’s portfolio — is effectively off-limits to investigators becauseUNDP won’t share their internal audit reports. As a result, the fund’s investigators can’t look more closely at some of the fund’s biggest multimillion-dollar losses.
In Mauritania, where UNDP manages the grant money, for example, the fund’s investigators say as much as 67 per cent of an anti-HIV grant was lost due to faked documents and other fraud. They say 67 per cent of the TB and malaria grant money they examined in that country was eaten up by faked invoices and other requests for payment.
UNDP, the U.N.’s main anti-poverty program, told AP it is reviewing its policy of keeping those audit reports to itself but “takes its responsibility towards our donors and the beneficiaries very seriously.”
UNDP Watch has already mentioned this latest scandal, but there’s more.
Recently a UNDP staffer alleged corruption, getting a curt response.
UNDP corruption came to light last month in the Southern Sudan.
Helen Clark orders a UNDP boss to attack the US Republicans and the Heritage Fundation, following their criticisms of the UN.
So scared is the UNDP of whistleblowing leaks, in November it announced it would spy on all staff and computers.
And there’s even more, especially if you look at the UN itself.
Of course, the issue for us, is how guilty is Helen Clark herself.
It does seem unlikely that she is directly feathering her own nest, syphoning off funds to her own Swiss bank account.
But as UNDP head, she is presiding over much and continuing corruption at the UNDP.
Perhaps she is too busy globetrotting on UNDP business, she’s in Yemen this week, to oversee and stamp out such matters.
Indeed, maybe she’s picking up too many undisclosed gifts and freebies!
Hat tip: TrueBlueNZ