OCTOBER 21, 2008
Already known as a pillar of corruption and mismanagement, the United Nations’ fraud-infested contract division is in trouble again for five new shady deals involving $20 million worth of contracts.
A relatively new task force created to tackle the monumental task of cleaning up the U.N.’s procurement department, exposed the latest wrongdoing this week in its annual report to the U.N. General Assembly. Headed by a former U.S. federal prosecutor, the task force had previously uncovered more than $630 million in contracts tainted by fraud, corruption or mismanagement at the world body which annually received major U.S. tax dollars.
The report highlights tainted contracts for air charter services in Congo, office supplies in Kenya, consulting jobs in Greece and payroll services at the U.N’s New York headquarters. The payroll scheme involves two American employees who steered $2 million in contracts to private firms in which they had a financial stake. In some of the other cases, U.N. employees solicited kickbacks to direct deals to specific companies.
This sort of fraud has long been the norm at the U.N., which is precisely why the task force was launched in 2006 even though an internal watchdog (Office of Internal Oversight Services) has documented the crisis in reports noting how nearly one-third of the procurement contracts involve waste, corruption and other irregularities.
Earlier this year the chief of the world body’s Commodity Procurement Section was sentenced to eight years in prison for accepting cash, real estate, wild parties and hookers as bribes. The corrupt diplomat, (Sanjaya Bahel of India) wielded incredible power because he was responsible for awarding billions of dollars in contracts to companies around the world. He was convicted by a federal jury of bribery, wire fraud and mail fraud.
Americans should be concerned about the ongoing crisis because the United States annually gives the U.N. $5.3 billion tax dollars. The funding continues even though the organization, founded six decades ago to maintain international peace and security, has failed miserably and is best known for its severe mismanagement and corruption.
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