By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series
UNITED NATIONS, April 5 – The UN's public financial disclosures for its officials, from new Secretary General Antonio Guterres on down, are inconsistent and almost uselessly vague - but most striking is the failure of some officials to make any disclosure at all.
From the list of 2016 disclosures, filed this year, officials such as Yemen envoy Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed and counter-terrorism chief Jean-Pierre Laborde are absent. In the past, an official declining to make any disclosure was listed, checking a box that he or she choose not to disclose. Now the names are simply not listed. But if UN envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura filed for 2016 (property in Italy and a suspended board membership, here), why is UN envoy on Yemen Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed not listed at all? Envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon, who sold out for a job with the UAE, was never listed.
Where is the enforcement? And what inquiries are done? The chief operating officer of the UN Office for Project Services, which as Inner City Press exposed was used for hiring on the UN's 38th floor, in 2016 listed a bond fund in Bermuda. Why in Bermuda?
Not to get too personal, but as Guterres' 100th day as Secretary General approaches, we will compare his 2016 disclosure with those made while he headed UNHCR. (Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric has tried to call Inner City Press' coverage of the UN "despicable" after having Inner City Press thrown out of the UN Press Briefing Room and the UN, and still restricting it.) Guterres in his February 22, 2017 filing lists property in Portugal and, as income, "Lifetime entitlement as former Prime Minister of Portugal, Government of Portugal." In 2013 he listed only a house in Portugal. Did he not have the lifetime entitlement then?
Another comparison, for now: Sigrid Kaag in 2013, along with extensive Swiss real estate, listed "Shares, Zeit Olive Oil, Occupied Palestinian Territories." By 2016 these shares were gone, along with any reference to the OPT or as Rima Khalaf's disclosure put it, the State of Palestine - and shares had been purchased of Twitter, ironic given that Kaag blocks Inner City Press on Twitter, like the UN's Cameroon resident coordinator Najat Rochdi and Ban Ki-moon's son in law Siddharth Chatterjee, promoted by Ban without recusal to be the UN's top person in Kenya. This last is a remainder that the UN is a place of nepotism and sometimes corruption, both defended by cover-ups and censorship such as that visited by now-gone Cristina Gallach on Inner City Press, for covering UN corruption, eviction without any hearing or appeal, and restrictions ongoing though now, post-Gallach, sought to be reversed. We'll have more on this.