Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Ban Ki-Moon Was At Art Show of Father of Briber Sheri Yan, Covers Up, Evicts Press

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive series
UNITED NATIONS, May 16 -- While many try to insulate today's UN from the open corruption of the recent past of President of the General Assembly John Ashe, and of Francis Lorenzo who has pleaded guilty, there is continuity to this UN scandal. This includes a revival of the Ng Lap Seng's old "South South News" team, with El Salvador ex-Ambassador Carlos Garcia and others, even as those investigating this UN corruption are evicted and restricted, and those covering it up are rewarded. 
   Inner City Press has repeatedly asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Ban's links to the corruption scandal, including Ban's appearance at an event sponsored by the Francis Lorenzo registered group Global Governance for the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Q&A videos here and here. (Ban's UN's response was covered by the New York Times on May 13, here.)
But Ban has been present at other events of those who have pleaded guilty to UN bribery charges, air-brushed out of the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services audit. For example, Ban was at Sheri Yan's father's “one man show” in the UN Secretariat lobby, giving his blessing to the pay to play nepotism of the Global Sustainability Foundation's Sheri Yan, who has pleaded guilty to UN bribery charges.  
As Inner City Press has repeatedly asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who vets these events? The UN must be reformed. But it is moving in the opposite direction, evicting the Press which asks the questions.

Ban and Yan's bio, credit via photo links
The OIOS audit criticizes Ban's Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach, who went on once questioned by Inner City Press about it to sign letters ousting the Press and then evicting its office, seeking to give it to a former UN Correspondents Association president rarely at the UN, for failing to do due diligence on GSF for another event and the sponsorship of the UN's slavery memorial.
  So how doesn't the OIOS audit even MENTION Ban Ki-moon's appearance at Sheri Yan's father's one man show? This is a cover up, as well as retaliation and censorship. We will have more on this.
On GG-UNSDG, Dujarric tried to answer about another group, then said Lorenzo's connection to the group isn't clear. Q&A video here.
   Well, now Inner City Press has reported that the "Global Governance for the UN Sustainable Development Goals" event Ban attended was with indicted John Ashe, his wife Anilla Cherian's book launch. Video here.
 It featured speeches by Ban and by Francis Lorenzo, who in his speech named both GG-UNSDG and Global National Competitiveness Cooperation Organization for the UN, which sponsored the DPI-NGO conference last year at which Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach spoke. Q&A video here.
   How did this not show up in the UN's audit of l'affaire John Ashe and Ng Lap Seng? How did this book launch event get inserted into UNTV archives, run by Gallach's DPI? On the video, Ban and then Mrs. Ban are thanked by Ashe and then Anilla Cherian. The indictment details how over $1,000,000 was withdrawn from the PGA Accounts and transferred to the personal accounts of Ashe and of Anilla Cherian; no-show jobs are also described.
   Then there is the speech of Francis Lorenzo, how Anilla Cherian showed Ban the book even before Ashe. The UN has been trying to downplay or conceal Ban Ki-moon's contacts with Lorenzo, most recently saying it's unclear how Lorenzo is connected to a group that he, Lorenzo, register, and another one he founded. Those obfuscations cannot stand; separately, the retaliation is more and more clear. We'll have more on this.
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 hereCourthouse News article here) and restrict its access, Inner City Press has been made aware of a revival of the South South News model, in organizations which retains ties to indicted Ng Lap Seng.   
And Gallach's Department of Public Information continues partnering with these organizations, even as DPI falls apart on Gallach's watch. The last NGO Conference at the UN, sponsored by South Korea among others, had as a sponsor and speaker the "Global National Competitiveness Cooperation Organization for the UN," one of four Sponsors of indicted Francis Lorenzo's Global Governance for the UN SDGs.  Gallach even spoke at the event.   
Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the "Global Governance for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals" (GG-UNSDG) on May 9 and again on May 10.Vine here. Dujarric refused to answer on this group, focusing instead on one of its strategic partners - which was founded by Francis Lorenzo, who has pleaded guilty to UN bribery charges. Asked by Inner City Press who is doing (or not doing) Ban's vetting, Dujarric again refused to answer. Vine here. What has changed? Are things getting worse?  
Ban's UN will have to answer this - for example, in March 2016 long after the indictments UNFPA's Marcela Suazo attended the GG-UNSDG event on the media. Tellingly, instances of her previous direct engagement with South South News now lead either to a removed video, or to a password firewall. Six months after the indictments, there was no screening within Ban's UN. 
On May 11, Inner City Press asked Dujarric about this. His response, beyond "ask UNFPA," was "not sure if Mr Lorenzo's role in that organization is clear to see."  Video here. UN transcript:
 Inner City Press:  I will do as gently as I can.  Again, I wanted… and I’ll explain why.  I wanted to ask you again about this Global Governance for UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).  And the reason I am and I’ve asked about this group and not the one that you answered on yesterday is that in March 2016, a UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), South-South office attended their event here in New York.  And I know that you’d said on, I guess it was, Monday that… that “we would encourage all parts of the UN to do as deep a due diligence as possible when partnering.”  So I wanted to know what is the… what is the current… given the audit, what is the current state of play in things like UNFPA and various far-flung agencies…  What kind of… [inaudible]

Spokesman:  I’m not aware of… that’s a question you have to ask UNFPA to confirm whether or not they actually attended this event.  Again, I think there is a very important role in the UN’s work for partnership with civil society and NGOs.  However, there is also a responsibility on every part of the UN system to do due diligence and to ensure that its partners are stand-up, to use a colloquial term.  And we would hope that due diligence is done, by all funds and programmes and other UN agencies.

Inner City Press:  Thanks for that.  And this may be to benefit these funds and programmes.  If an individual who has recently pleaded guilty to bribery charges involving the UN, is the registrant and centrally involved in an organization, should funds and programmes continue to be engaging with them?

Spokesman:  That would… I think…  The short answer would be no.  Also, I’m not sure Mr. [Francis] Lorenzo’s role in that organization is clear to see.  But it would… obviously, you would need… everyone needs to do due diligence. 
Well, as Inner City Press has shown, Francis Lorenzo who has pleaded guilty to bribery at the UN is the REGISTRANT of the group, here; he founded at least one of the group's listed "Strategic Partners."
GG-UNSDG's website lists as registrant Francis Lorenzo and as administrator CBatres. This same CBatres was administrator for Ng Lap Seng's Sun Kian Ip Foundation, subject to the UN audit.  Would Dujarric say, "Ask Sun Kian Ip"? On May 12, Inner City Press asked Dujarric more, Video Here, UN Transcript here: 
Inner City Press: yesterday you'd said that  the connection to this Global Governance for UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) wasn't clear.  I urge you, just look who registered the group.  But now that you mentioned the NGO meeting in South Korea, there was a DPI-NGO meeting held here in August of 2015.  And there's a sponsor with a very long name that is one of the four founding principal partners of this Lorenzo-linked group that was a sponsor of that meeting.  Ms. [Cristina] Gallach spoke at it, etc.  What do you say about that?  It seems that the connections between these groups and DPI are more extensive than were in the audit.  And what's being done of this upcoming NGO-DPI conference to ensure that the same groups that… that infiltrated are not there?

Spokesman:  All our colleagues… we would expect all our colleagues to be vigilant and do proper vetting, and the participants in the DPI-NGO are all… NGOs have registered with DPI. 
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has attended events of the GG-UNSDG and in March 2016 of one of its four "partners," the one founded by Francis Lorenzo who has pleaded guilty to UN bribery charges. 

The OIOS audit, then, was not an attempt to ensure that the sell-outs to corruption shown for example in Paragraphs 37-40 and 20(b) don't happen again - because they are continuing to happen. 
Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about these connections on May 9. Vine here. Video here. UN Transcript here: 
Inner City Press:  in the wake of the indictments of John Ashe and Ng Lap Seng, there was the audit created.  It seemed to be an attempt by the UN to find out interactions with entities related to Ng Lap Seng... since then, I’ve found that the Secretary-General has engaged with a new group called Global Governance for United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which is very much connected with the same individuals that were involved in South-South News, in Ng Lap Seng’s foundations.  These involvements are as recent as March 2016.  So I’m wondering, what is the screening process that’s taking place?  Is the audit… are you simply looking at the names that were mentioned in the indictment?  Or is there some attempt… it seems to some that there’s basically a continuation of the same process under other names?

Spokesman:  I’m not… the audit looked at the names, obviously, that were mentioned in the indictment that were mentioned in the press.  I’m not aware of the group that you mentioned.

Inner City Press:  There’s a picture of the Secretary-General…  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  I’m just saying I’m not aware… there are a lot of the things I’m not aware of.  And I’m not aware of this particular group that you raise.  I’m happy to look into it.

Inner City Press:  But I guess my question would be, given… obviously, there’s due process.  So the two individuals who have not yet… who have nod pled guilty, John Ashe and Ng Lap Seng, are one thing, but four people have pleaded guilty.  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  There is…

Inner City Press:  And you’d think that the UN would search its database… [inaudible]

Spokesman:  Again, I’m not going to comment on this particular case.  I’m not aware of it.  But obviously, we would encourage all parts of the United Nations to do as deep a due diligence as possible when partnering.  I’ll come back to you.  [inaudible]

Inner City Press:  One question…

Spokesman:  No, I’ll come back to you.  
Dujarric said he was happy to check but nothing came back by the next day May 10 at noon. So Inner City Press asked again. Dujarric has an answer ready about another group, one of GG-UNSDG's strategic partners which was founded by Francis Lorenzo. Dujarric refused to answer about GG-UNSDG, nor on who is doing or not doing Ban's vetting. UNreal. As noted, Inner City Press found that Dujarric had blocked it on Twitter.
Again the UN's response has been to target, oust, evict and restrict the Press which is pursuing and will continue to pursue this story.  For now, Ban and Gallach have Inner City Press confined to small Kafka-esque stakeouts told not to ask questions to diplomats.
  The website, with photos of Ban Ki-moon and Garcia and a UN Correspondents Association member who while an UNCA Executive Committee member attended indicted Ng Lap Seng's August 2015 Macau event, saying on its website as of May 6, 2016 that it 
"in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Grenada to the United Nations and the Montessori Model United Nations organized a High-level Meeting on Media, Education and Global Governance for the UNSDG at the New York Hilton Hotel.

The key note speakers included H.E. Mr. Carlos Alberto Rojas Santos, Deputy Permanent Representative of Honduras to the United Nations; Mrs. Marcela Suazo, Director of South-South Unit, UNFPA; Mr. Diego Diaz, Trade Commissioner of Guatemala, Trade Office in New York;  Mr. Julio Pujols, Counsellor of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations; Mr. Haliscelik Kahraman, New York & UN Bureau Chief- Turkish Radio and Television- TRTWorld; and Mr. Yuntao Guo, Secretary General of the Global Governance for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals."''"
But GG-UNSDG's website's administrator is Francis Lorenzo, who had pleaded guilty to UN bribery charges. Another connection to Ng Lap Seng is Christian Batres, involved in the website and in Sun Kian Ip Foundation before it. As Inner City Press reported, before and after its eviction by Ban Ki-moon, everything is for sale in Ban's UN. We'll have more on this. 
Ban's Gallach and Dujarric have defended the continuation of South South News with a UN office while Inner City Press is evicted and restricted, now wil play dumb on this new corruption as moneyed South South News issued a statement attach unnamed independent journalists - Ban's UN has come to this, with big Gulf and western media conflicted out since South South News funded the UN Correspondents Association they use to attach their independent competitors - to this has the UN sunk. 

 On May 4 Inner City Press asked UN Under Secretary-General for Management Yukio Takasu about two portions of the OIOS audit. Video here. 
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?
Inner City Press On May 2 asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric if any of the OIOS recommendations due April 30 had been implemented. No information has been provided. From the UN transcript:
 Inner City Press: on the audit, not the UNDP one that has not been released but on the OIOS UN audit — of the seven recommendations, four of them were to have been implemented with documentation by 30 April including the assignment of responsibility for the changing of the document by the Secretariat’s DGACM (Department of General Assembly and Conference Management), the acceptance of gifts by Secretariat staff, I could go through the other two… So I'm asking you, have these been implemented and, if so, will the documentation be made public in the spirit of transparency?

Spokesman:  I have no doubt the concerned departments have been following up with OIOS.  If I have something to share, I will.
 Nothing. Inner City Press on April 29 asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman  Dujarric, video hereUN transcript here:
Inner City Press: just for a simple statement… if the UN finds that a UN-paid staff member in the office of the PGA (President of the General Assembly) in fact erroneously or fraudulently had an A visa, a diplomat's visa for purposes of immunity, what does the UN do?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Matthew, I'm not going to go into hypotheticals.  We expect all UN staff members to abide by the rules, and if they don't, there are sanctions according to policy...  
  What the UN did not transcribe, and in fact cut from its audio, was Dujarric saying, "Matthew, that's a f*cking stupid question." But Vine here. We'll have more on this. 

On April 28, Inner City Press asked Dujarric, video hereUN transcript here.
  Dujarric did not come back with an answer, but should have. Inner City Press is exclusively informed that the UN allowed “visa games” in the case of John Ashe's chief of staff Paulette Bethel, who is now in the Cabinet of current PGA Mogens Lykketoft and is being lobbied to continue, with immunity, with the *next* PGA (more on that in a separate forthcoming exclusive story).
   Bethel had been an Ambassador with an “A” diplomatic visa, full diplomatic immunity. But while working for Ashe, Ban's UN paid her. Still she arranged to have an “A” visa -- significant given the corruption in which her Office was allegedly involved in.
   Now, the sources tell Inner City Press, there is a review of how Ban Ki-moon's UN has allowed for abuse of the visa (and immunity) system. On this, too, we will have more.
Back on March 11, Inner City Presreported and asked this:
  By having her position with Lykketoft, Paulette Bethel continues to have immunity. Ban Ki-moon has not waived it, despite the portrait painted of her the John Ashe indictment. She “knows where the bodies are buried,” as the phrase has it.
  And perhaps for that reason, Inner City Press is multiply informed that Bethel is lobbying for a continued immunity job with the NEXT President of the General Assembly, whether from Cyprus or Fiji.
  In fact, Inner City Press is informed, both candidates to succeed Lykketoft as PGA, Cyprus and Fiji, was lobbied to keep Bethel on -- as a D2, with full immunity -- if they win the job, and were promised (the same) votes if they do. 
Now, Inner City Press is informed of new (March 11) developments regarding Paulette Bethel's immunity status.
  For now, what does this mean? Well -- did Lykketoft make the same corrupt deal? Why WOULD Lykketoft, claiming to be so different from John Ashe, keep Ashe's chief of staff on his team? Even Banned from the UN second floor where Lykketoft's office -- used to campaign for Helle Thorning-Schmidt, as Inner City Press exclusively covered -- we'll have more on this. Here.
On March 11, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric -- who among other things has refused to answer on lending UN Press Briefing Room, in which indictee Frank Lorenzo appeared without being listed in the Media Alert -- about this.
After being thrown out of the UN on two hours notice by Under Secretary General for DPI Cristina Gallach on February 19, on March 10 back in on a "non resident correspondent" "Green P" pass, Inner City Press was ordered out of the UN at 8 pm, here, as it worked on this story -- here's an Inner City Press story on Bethel and Ban Ki-moon's connection to the scandal -- in the UN Lobby. 
 UNder this kind of harassment, intimidation and attempted censorship, there is only one approach: publish, publish, publish. If Bethel didn't have the immunity that comes with a UN D-2 post, what might she testify to? Who could waive her immunity?
  The new Free UN Coalition for Access -- whose sign USG Cristina "The Censor" Gallach directed to be torn down after she evicted Inner City Press from its long-time office -- seeks to open the UN and these processes - watch this site.