By Matthew Russell Lee, Video here
UNITED NATIONS, December 30 -- Ban Ki-moon ceases to be UN Secretary General on December 31 at midnight and will at that moment lose his immunity and, it was supposed to be, his UN perks including free housing.
But in typical Ban Ki-moon fashion, Ban will in fact stay on in the UN townhouse on Sutton Place, at least until January 3, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press as the last question at the December 23 noon briefing.
On December 30 amid questions not only about nepotism including his nephew Dennis Bahn working for the UN's landlord on 45th Street Colliers International but about receiving $30,000 in cash at a New York restaurant while UN Secretary General (his spokesman has threatened legal action, here, then denied it, here), Ban Ki-moon held a carefully choreographed final (too) long farewell.
It was to begin at noon by the General Assembly, but as Inner City Press covered the morning's UN Security Council meeting on Syria, and asked which groups have signed on for a ceasefire, it learned that Ban was again going Korean-only.
Just as Ban held a Korean-only meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room Inner City Press was evicted from, and a closed “internal” meeting on December 29 with the Korean-American Association of Greater New York, now he intended a statement “only to the Korean people,” as one participant said.
Inner City Press asked to attended and it was denied. Then Inner City Press managed to get escorted by minder(s) to the Delegates Entrance, where it live-streamed a long Periscope broadcast, edited down to 20 minutes here.
Ambassadors came in to say goodbye to Ban. One, a West African Permanent Representative, told Inner City Press, “We will ban Ban from this UN compound.” Samantha Power came in, and left early. UN officials lined up for some final face time, including some trying desperately to keep their jobs.
Finally Ban came down the stairs and glad-handed; some in the media pen even applauded. One correspondent was allowed to leave the pen and speak with Ban.
There was a rush out to limousines - the armored Hyundai the South Korean mission gave Ban or the UN is “no longer in service,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press, also saying Ban will stay in the UN / taxpayers' house past the expiration of this term. We'll have more on this - and on the end of immunity. Ban's bad decade was over. Video here.
On December 29, Ban tried to keep the Press out of his meeting in the UN with, it was said in his Public Schedule, New York City Council and Congress members.
The event, set for 11 am on December 29 in UN Conference Room 8, was listed by Ban's in-house state media UN Television, then on Ban's “public” schedule. But it was not listed as a media opportunity. Inner City Press was told that it was initially open - then deemed “closed.” Why? To avoid the corruption questions Ban's taxpayer funded spokesperson's office has refused to answer?
Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access made a formal request that Ban's “remarks” to NYC Council and Congress members be open.
But when Inner City Press showed up outside Conference Room 8, where already UN Security officers were stationed, it was told the event was “internal” and would remain closed. Furniture had been moved for a photo op. The participants, nearly all of them Korean, lined up and waited for Ban.
One man showed a banner with Ban's face on it - then quickly put it away when Inner City Press started filming with its Periscope camera (which was grabbed and thrown by UN thugs outside another praising Ban Ki-moon event on Wall Street on December 16).
In October, Ban gave a speech to the Council of Korean-Americans which charged $100,000 sponsorships; Ban never released the text of his speech despite six requests by Inner City Press.
On December 29 in the UN basement Ban arrived, greeted the particpants in Korean, then summoned them into Conference Room 8. Inner City Press again asked to cover it, asking how could it be “internal” if these people didn't work for the UN.
Finally when a Ban aide emerged to tell his UNTV to come in and film, Inner City Press was allowed in, only for the hand-over of “proclamations,” standing in the back. Video here.
There were, in fact, no NYC City Council or Congress members. The event was by the Korean-American Association of Greater New York and included New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim (who said he was also there for Scott Stringer, who had no public schedule).
There was NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo's deputy for constituent affairs, who afterward spoke openly about Ban's run for South Korea's presidency. Ban left without taking any questions; his spokespeople refused to answer Inner City Press' eight questions on December 27 and six on December 28. Inner City Press has submitted five questions on December 29, on Burundi and South Sudan, corruption and this:
“On the event held in Conference Room 8 today from 11 to 11:30, please provide a list of attendees, and explain why it was listed as NYC City Council and Congress members, and also, why it was called “internal” and the Press not allowed to cover the remarks (which UNTV did) and the whole event (which UN Photo did).”
Watch this site.
Update: 19 hours after the question was submitted, and while leaving 16 of 19 questions over three days unanswered, UN Spokesman Dujarric on December 30 sent this, verbatim: "PRESS COVERAGE OF EVENTS IS DECIDED BY MY OFFICE ON A CASE BY CASE BASIS "
When Inner City Press asked questions on the morning of December 27 when Ban's spokesperson's office while paid held no briefing, no answer was given even two days later. The questions asked included:
“Please explain why Ban Ki-moon is not moving out of the UN resident when his term expires and any financial arrangements made to reimburse the UN / taxpayers including for any security. Please state if Ban Ki-moon now expects to meet with the US President-elect before Ban returns to South Korea on January 15 and if not, why not. Regarding December 31, please describe how the Secretary General pushing the button to start the year-end countdown came about, including any role of the NYC Office of International Affairs.”
No answer. This has been Ban's era: arrogance, censorship, entitlement. But at long last, an end to impunity - which Ban misused on his UN having brought cholera to Haiti, and in the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case.
Following the election of Trump on November 8-9 UN high officials, one of them told Inner City Press on November 14, “have been freaking out. They don't know how much is going to be cut, and from where.”
In this context, and as he still dreams of running for South Korea president, Ban Ki-moon trumped up his “few minutes” phone call with President-Elect (PEOTUS) Trump into one in which he raised “many issues” -- but not, Ban's spokesperson's office told Inner City Press, Yemen.
Then, with no further communication with Trump, Ban turn this into a commitment or plan to have a face to face meeting. They are both in New York, Ban's spokesperson said coyly.
South Korea's Arirang TV, which has bragged loudly how it got included on the “UN in-house channel” by the UN Department of Public Information's Cristina Gallach, who also evicted and restricts Inner City Press for Ban.
Many larger countries are NOT represented in the UN's EZTV list of channels; critical media once evicted as Inner City Press was by Ban and Gallach no longer have access to it anyway.
But here is a compilation of Arirang overplaying Ban and Trump, Gallach and her UN Censorship Alliance partner - 31 year resident correspondent Giampaolo Pioli lavishing praise on Arirang, even that is is among UN in-house networks Top Four must-see TV.
This is false advertising. We'll have more on this.
And on that UN high officials, one of them told Inner City Press on November 14, “have been freaking out. They don't know how much is going to be cut, and from where.”
Here's a suggestion, based not only on Inner City Press' personal experience at the UN (NYT here) but interviews with staff, diplomats and elected officials: if there is one UN Department to be cut, even eliminated, it is the Department of Public Information (DPI).
Since Cristina Gallach of Spain took DPI over, as Ban Ki-moon's attempt to ingratiate himself to Spain during its now-ending UN Security Council term, it has not only evicted the investigative Press without any due process or appeal, it has most recent named as the UN's gender empowerment ambassador not an actual person but rather a cartoon character, Wonder Woman.
Gallach, after not consulting with staff or even the top of UN Women, ignored the staff and mission protest to her ceremony promoting a forthcoming movie.
In terms of outright corruption, even the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services audit of the John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng ongoing bribery case found that Gallach did no due diligence of at least two Ng Lap Seng funded events in the UN, including involving the UN's slavery memorial.
Three strikes and you're out. Further, why does the UN need its own propaganda arm? It debilitates UN officials to think they can avoid the actual Press and do softball “interviews” with the UN's own media. There are some good people in DPI, and not only they but some of their functions could find homes in other Departments. But as of today, and in the near future, the UN Department of Public Information should be cut. We'll have more on this.
As Antonio Guterres prepares to take over as UN Secretary General from Ban Ki-moon on January 1, one litmus test will be whether those Ban-era officials implicated in corruption like the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashse UN bribery case are moved out, or retained for political reasons.
Here's the test: while Cristina Gallach of Spain, to whom Ban Ki-moon gave the top job at the UN Department of Public Information in an attempt to ingratiate himself to Spain which had just come onto the Security Council, is repeatedly criticized in the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services audit of l'affaire Ng Lap Seng (here at Paragraphs 37-40 and 20b), and summarily evicted the investigative Press for asking her about her role - will she remain?
Rajoy of Spain may want to keep an Under Secretary General, but is retaliatory incompetent Gallach the right one? Why not give Spain the UN Disarmament USG post, if they get one at all? Gender parity cannot be made a pretext to protect corruption and censorship. Busca una otra.
Sources tell Inner City Press that Gallach's previous boss and protect, Javier Solana, may try to play his Socialist Party cards to keep her on. But is that appropriate?
Cristina Gallach with indicted Franciso Lorenzo, asked then evicted Press
As the UN bribery scandal gathered force Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for an audit by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services of Sheri Yan's Global Sustainability Foundation (GSF), David Ng Lap Seng's Sun Kian Ip Group and its affiliates including the "World Harmony Foundation" and South South News, among others.
The audit, completed early this year but first put online by Inner City Press, directly criticizes Cristina Gallach, the Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, Paragraphs 37-40 -- and 20b.
This last concerns the lack of any due diligence by the UN Department of Public Information under Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach of Ng Lap Seng's GWF's sponsorship of the “Ark of Return” ceremony.
Now in November, a person charged along with Ng Lap Seng, Jeffrey Yin, has made a motion to suppress what he said when arrested in September 2015. His motion says among other things that he was awake for more than 24 hours. Whether it would furhter push back Ng's trial, already put beyond the time when Ban Ki-moon, on whose watch it happened and whose Secretariat including Gallach bear responsibility, is not yet known.
Even in January, Antonio Guterres will have taken over from Ban Ki-moon. Will Guterres move past Ban Ki-moon's only partial cooperation -- and Ban's and Gallach's retaliation against Inner City Press for having dug into each of their roles in the scandal since October 2015? In that month, Inner City Press asked Gallach about her role in the South South Awards with South South News' Francis Lorenzo. Video here.
In February 2016, on the thinnest of pretexts and without once speaking with Inner City Press, Gallach ordered it out of the UN on two hours notice, then evicted its long time office in April. South South News, described in the case as a conduit for bribery, remains in its office, never asking any quesitons at the UN, like Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom to which Gallach purports to give Inner City Press' office.
Gallach herself must go - but will she? How, for example, would the laudable ideal of gender parity apply to incompetent or corrupt holdover official? We'll have more on all this.
On August 23, 2016, the International Day for the Remembrance of Slavery and its Abolition, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here
On June 29, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Farhan Haq about it , video here, UN transcript here and below.
On August 11, lawyers for Ng Lap Seng filed in Federal court their formal demand to the UN and Ban Ki-moon's chief lawyer Manuel de Serpa Soares to produce a slew of financial and other information, including all of its communications with South South News.
SSN is described in the file, by the prosecution, as a vehicle of bribery but the UN has left it in its office -- a conflict of interest -- while evicting Inner City Press which asked questions about it. Ban Ki-moon's UN is corrupt. We'll have more on this.
On July 29 Shiwei Yan a/k/a Sheri Yan was sentenced to 20 months in prison, was fined $12,500 and forfeited $300,000. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's press release, here.
As this player in on UN scandal was sentenced, the UN outright stonewalled on basic Press questions about a news scandal, while having evicted the questioning Press and confining it to minders. Then it said the event was canceled as a basis to answer no questions.
This is Ban Ki-moon's UN: Ban attended Sheri Yan's father's one person art show, had his photo taken at it. See here.
Ban and Yan's bio, credit via photo links
The UN claims the Ng Lap Seng and Sheri Yan case has nothing to do with it or especially Ban, who wants to run for President of South Korea. But this is false.
Ban is allowing new privatization of the UN, through UN Security; his spokesman is trying to discourage questions about it by accusing Inner City Press of “unethical Googling,” after having played a role in ousting and evicting Inner City Press. This is Ban's UN.From the prosecutor's new letter:
"in an email dated on or about March 12, 2010, an individual affiliated with the State Council Information Office, an entity of the PRC government, sent an email to a business associate of Ng, containing a draft letter (in Chinese) for Ng to sign or approve. According to a draft translation prepared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), the letter, which began with Ng introducing himself as a member of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (“CPPCC”), a political advisory body, and as the “Chairman of the Board of the United Nations South South News,” stated in pertinent part:
[quote] my greatest wish is to fairly and objectively report the social development, religion, culture, and ideology of China through the South South News, a global media platform authorized by the UN, to display China’s soft power, counter malicious, distorted news by anti-China forces, and let the whole world hear a true voice that comes from China to understand the real China. . . .
. . . I will select suitable regions in China to establish a South South Cooperation Organization International Conference Center and a South South News Network Media Production Center as a base of operations for South South News.
Hope that the plan to establish two centers and the development of South South News in China can obtain strong support from the government of China. [unquote]
As the Court is aware, South South News, the entity described in the above email, is the conduit through which the Government alleges that defendants Ng and Jeff C. Yin funneled some of their bribe and money laundering payments.”
So it says South South News was “authorized” by the UN; the prosecution says Ng and Yin used South South News as a conduit for bribery in the UN. And as of July 8, South South News still has its UN official from Ban Ki-moon as Inner City Press while investigating it was evicted and is now restricted to only cover events on the UN Conference Building's second floor -- ECOSOC and the Trusteeship Council Chambers, the General Assembly and General Assembly President's office -- with one of Ban Ki-moon's minders. This is Ban's UN.
From the UN's June 29 transcript:
Inner City Press: Monday down in… in Federal Court, there was a hearing for Mr. Ng Lap Seng in the ongoing case, and Assistant District Attorney [Daniel] Richenthal basically widened the case and said they're going to be… there's more things they're looking at as to Ng Lap Seng, and he also described in more detail a, quote, conduit of bribery taking place within the UN. And I wanted to know, since you've said you're monitoring it, what is the UN's response to the new information that was presented on Monday?
Deputy Spokesman: Yeah, we are aware of the latest information, and, as I've pointed out, the situation of South-South News is under review. It continues to be under review, but certainly, any new information is useful in light of that.
After the above, a corporate news wire which has a conflict of interest on this passed through South South News' claims that it has had "no connection with any government at any level" - this is false. But the conflicted corporate wire, with its own Permanent seat on the board of hte UN Correspondents Assocation which took money from Ng's South South News, merely passes through the denial. Call it journalism? We'll have more on this.
On June 27, former South South News reporter turned spokesperson for John Ashe and now his family wrote to the UN press corps, some of whom she saw over the weekend:
"Dear Friends and Dear UN and Media Representatives, I am kindly forwarding a Statement from the Family of the late John. W. Ashe, President of the UN General Assembly 68th Session, at the request of his widowed wife, Anilla Cherian.I have accepted to forward this Statement in my personal capacity and in honor of Ambassador Ashe’s legacy as a long-serving diplomat. I will not be addressing any questions and I do appreciate your understanding.
It was very nice seeing several of you over the weekend. I hope you are all doing well."
If the goal was to distinguish South South News from John Ashe and Ng Lap Seng, this doesn't do it.
The audit deals with South South News - which as of June 27 STILL has a UN office, photo here, UNlike Inner City Press. In Ban's UN one only gets due process if one has money, or pays money, as South South News did, including to the UN Correspondents Association which then gave Ng Lap Seng a photo-op with Ban. Or as the Saudis did to get Ban to remove them from the Yemen Children and Armed Conflict annex.
On June 27 in Federal Court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Richenthal said that South South News was a conduit for bribery involving the now conveniently (and mysteriously) deceased former PGA John Ashe. (Some with links to Ashe try to erase all trace, but here is one: UNCA with AAshe's spokesperson Konja, formerly of South South News), which one wire-with-a-conflict covering this story never mentions. Compare to this.)