Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ban Ki-moon Scandals Include Pension Fund, UN Censors His Appearance

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 19 -- While many try to insulate today's UN from the open corruption of the recent past of President of the General Assembly John Ashe, there is continuity to that UN scandal. So too with the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund, now under Sergio Arvizu and Ban Ki-moon's direct representative Carolyn "Hedge Fund" Boykin, see below. 
On May 19, the UN Media Alert initially invited the press to cover Ban Ki-moon's remarks to the Association of Former International Civil Servants - then revised the notice to say it was closed. 
Since Ban Ki-moon has, amid Inner City Press questions about his role in the UN corruption scandal evicted Inner City Press and given its long time office to Egyptian state media which gets other journalists arrested, Inner City Press required a minder to even stakeout the meeting. 
This is Ban's UN. This too: Ban entered with his chief of staff Edmond Mulet - who did nothing to stop or even look into Cristina Gallach's eviction of Inner City Press - and Yukio Takaso. When they emerged, after Ban's remarks, suddenly the meeting was not closed anymore; it was on the webcast. It was comical: Boykin could not get her slides or microphone to work, called it ludicrous. This is a multi billion dollar fund and how Ban has let it be run.
Inner City Press focused on the bribery scandal in its lone round of questions to UN Under Secretary General for Management Yukio Takasu on May 4, but updates on the Pension Fund decay, below.
   As UN officials including Cristina Gallach, whose involvement in the scandal is detailed in the UN's own Office of Internal Oversight Services audit at Paragraphs 37 to 40 and 20(b) have moved to evict Inner City Press  from the UN premises (video here) and restrict its access (New York Times, here) Inner City Press on May 17 asked UN SpokesmanStephane Dujarric for an update on the UN Pension Fund scandal, Vine here, UN transcript here:
 Inner City Press: about the pension fund and the backlog.  And they're saying, very specifically, that, although USG [Under-Secretary-General Yukio] Takasu said that there's been a 36 per cent of the backlog has been dealt with; they say it's actually 7 per cent, because new cases keep coming on.  And Baumann… but, I mean, staff who have smaller pensions also are complaining that… what's actually being done?  And what is the UN's response to a pretty sophisticated analysis by a staff union in Geneva that the number is false that was put out over iSeek…?

Spokesman:  My understanding from the pension fund is that the backlog is supposed to be cleared or at least dealt with in… majority of it by the end of this month.  We very much hope so.  Obviously, this kind of… you know, we talk about numbers, but each number is hardship for a retired staff member.

Inner City Press:  And what's the status of the request by the head of the… of the pension fund to sort of exempt the fund and its staff from rules?  I know there was a proposal…

Spokesman:  I don't know. 
 Great. On May 4 Inner City Press asked UN Under Secretary-General for Management Yukio Takasu about two portions of the OIOS audit.Video here. 
Takasu has been petitioned to reign in Sergio Arvizu from a Gallach-like power grab; recently the Department of Management reported to staff that Arzu is working to fix the months-long backlog in starting to pay benefits. 
This is contested -- "the backlog was only reduced by 7%, a fifth of the 36% claimed by management. On current trends it will take 14 months to clear the backlog" -- and so like on Gallach's Press eviction, Ban Ki-moon is petitioned. But Ban just flies around the world collecting honorary degrees and, apparently, hoping these scandals can be kept under wraps until he leaves, with an eye to a final sinecure. Ban is being mis-advised. Pro tip: censorship is not the way to go out.

How was indicted Ng Lap Seng's Global Sustainability Foundation's “sponsorship” of the UN slavery memorial opening event, featuring Ban Ki-moon, accounted for in the UN budget?
  Takasu gamely said that “in-kind” contributions are not quantified or listed. If so, how many other events did Ng Lap Seng entities sponsor? Inner City Press asked how Takasu's Assistant Secretary General of the Office of Central Support Services allowed Ng Lap Seng's June 30, 2015 event in the UN Vistitors Lobby, also with no due diligence by Gallach's DPI, to go forward. Things slip between the cracks, Takasu said, indicating that he would like to tighten things up. 

 So how much more slipped through the cracks? And how was Gallach allowed -- or encouraged -- to retaliate against the Press which is pursuing and asking about this story? Given that Gallach clearly should have recused itself, when will Inner City Press be restored to its shared office and Resident Correspondent accreditation status?