By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive
UNITED NATIONS, May 18 -- When the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's son in law Siddharth Chatterjee in 2009 was given the top Middle East job for the UN Office of Project Services in Copenhagen, issues of nepotism were raised by the Press and angrily denied by Ban's spokesmen at the UN.
In March of this year when Inner City Press asked about Chatterjee leaving UNOPS, where sources described him as ineffective and called “the furniture,” the UN first tried not to answer, then said
“Chatterjee left his position as UNOPS Regional Director for Europe and the Middle East in July 2010 and, after taking accumulated annual leave, went on special leave without pay until 31 May, of this year, 2011. The end of the special leave without pay coincides with the end of his period of secondment to UNOPS from UNICEF.”
Some thought that this leave from the UN system meant an end to nepotism, an end to Chatterjee trading off his connection to the top man in the UN system.
Now, multiple sources tell Chatterjee is lining up to be given the job of “chief diplomatic officer” for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, overseeing a “New York Delegation to the UN” based at 420 Lexington Avenue.
That is, IFCR is reportedly hiring Ban Ki-moon's son in law to lobby (or engage in “diplomacy” with)... Ban Ki-moon.
Here is the UN's transcript of the March 15 noon briefing:
Inner City Press: I asked a simple question whether the son-in-law of the Secretary-General was still being paid by UNOPS, [United Nations Office for Project Services] as well as whether his educational things may be being paid. Farhan [Haq] said, “Ask UNOPS”. So, I sent them an e-mail, I don’t have an answer, but I also notice that Farhan is listed as the New York Spokesman for UNOPS on their web page. So, I just, I think you may… maybe you have an answer to it and so then all of this is now moot, but, what is the answer?
Spokesperson: It is, Matthew. First of all, UNOPS will probably be sending you the e-mail saying what I am going to say, which is that Mr. [Siddarth] Chatterjee left his position as UNOPS Regional Director for Europe and the Middle East in July 2010 and, after taking accumulated annual leave, went on special leave without pay until 31 May, of this year, 2011. The end of the special leave without pay coincides with the end of his period of secondment to UNOPS from UNICEF. And during his special leave without pay, Mr. Chatterjee does not receive any payments or funding from UNOPS. And for your information, a new Regional Director for Europe and the Middle East joined UNOPS on 4 October 2010. That’s what I have for you, okay.
After that, Inner City Press sent these follow up questions to Haq and Martin Nesirky.
They responded, “please contact UNOPS. The information provided at the briefing today came from UNOPS.”
Inner City Press then sent the follow to UNOPS, still with no response:
Hello. Yesterday I was told to “ask UNOPS” about the S-G's son in law and I emailed Copenhagen questions (although Farhan Haq is listed as New York contact for UNOPS).
I have yet to receive any e-mail response from UNOPS, so I had to ask at the noon briefing, and Mr. Nesirky read out a response, saying he expected I'd get an email from UNOPS. I still haven't, so I emailed Nesirky and Haq, UNOPS New York contact. Now I get a reply to that saying “ask UNOPS.” This seems like a run around: I would like an answer, in writing, today, to the below:
1. You said that Chatterjee is on leave without pay until May 31, 2011, when his secondment from UNICEF runs out. Will be remain in the UN system as a staff member after May 31st?
2. UN staff rule 5.3(a)(i) says that "Special leave may be granted at the request of a staff member holding a fixed-term or a continuing appointment for advanced study or research in the interest of the United Nations, in cases of extended illness, for child care or for other important reasons for such period of time." For what reason did the UN approve leave without pay for Chatterjee?
3. Who made the decision to place Chatterjee on leave without pay?
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