DECEMBER 18, 2007
A new U.S.-led task force has uncovered yet more corruption at the scandal-plagued United Nations where this week nearly a dozen officials from the world body’s renowned peacekeeping operations were exposed for soliciting bribes and rigging bids.
Led by former federal prosecutor Robert Appleton, the procurement task force revealed a pervasive pattern of corruption and mismanagement involving hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts for fuel, food, construction and other materials and services used by the growing U.N. peacekeeping division which has an annual budget of $7 billion and around 100,000 so-called peacekeepers.
Investigators found multiple instances of corruption, costing about $610 million, among at least 10 officials in Haiti and Congo who solicited bribes and rigged bids in those countries. The U.N.’s costly peacekeeping missions have for years been plagued with rampant fraud and corruption in Cambodia, Somalia and the Balkans yet its Office of Internal Oversight Services has ignored the wrongdoing.
Other U.N. departments have for years been infested with crooked officials and several have actually been criminally convicted, including a high-ranking Indian diplomat (Sanjaya Bahel) this year who openly accepted cash bribes, property and even hookers in exchange for billions of dollars worth of U.N. contracts worldwide.
The director of the Iraq oil-for-food program was also indicted on bribery and fraud charges for his role in running the $64 billion scam that was created to bring food and humanitarian goods to the Iraqi people using the proceeds of oil sales conducted through the U.N. Instead the three-year program was rife with bribed officials and thousands of companies that paid Saddam Hussein illegal kickbacks, allowing the executed dictator to generate about $20 billion in revenues.
And who could forget the U.N.’s longtime Secretary General Kofi Annan, who oversaw the oil-for-food scandal as well as other fiascos abroad, and secretly secured lucrative, multi-million dollar deals for his son Kojo? Although Annan no longer heads the U.N., many of the corrupt officials who worked under him still hold powerful positions.
The ongoing waste and severe mismanagement at the U.N. should be a tremendous concern to Americans since the U.S. is the world body’s largest contributor, annually donating 8 billion taxpayer dollars.
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