JANUARY 11, 2008
Investigators at the scandal-plagued United Nations have announced that the long documented fraud at the world agency is even worst than previously reported and that mismanagement and corruption involving hundreds of millions of dollars is at al all-time high.
Under pressure from widespread media reports of systematic corruption a U.N. investigative unit that until recently was vacationing, announced that it is finally investigating hundreds of cases involving fraud in more than $600 million worth of contracts as well as other serious offenses.
So severe is the problem that the head of the unit, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) was taken aback, confessing that the mismanagement, fraud and corruption are to an extent “we didn’t really expect.” Two-thirds of the cases being investigated involve widely reported sexual exploitation and abuse among peacekeeping missions and the rest mainly involves the lucrative contracts that have in some way been tainted with fraud.
In December a U.S.-led task force uncovered rampant and widely accepted corruption within the U.N.’s renowned peacekeeping operations and nearly a dozen officials were exposed for soliciting bribes and rigging bids. Led by former federal prosecutor Robert Appleton, the procurement task force revealed a pervasive pattern of 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.
Other U.N. departments have for years been infested with crooked officials and several have actually been criminally convicted for bribery and fraud, among other things. Among them was a high-ranking Indian diplomat who openly accepted cash bribes, property and even hookers in exchange for U.N. contracts and the director of the infamous oil-for-food scam which was rife with bribed officials.
But in the midst of those scandals the U.N.’s so-called watchdog, the OIOS, was essentially missing in action and never really conducted any substantial investigations. That makes this week’s announcement by the internal agency encouraging, especially to Americans since the U.S. is the world body’s largest contributor, annually donating 8 billion taxpayer dollars.
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