Monday, November 20, 2017

New UN Sex Abuse in DRC, SG Guterres SaidTakes It Seriously, Threatens ICP Accreditation


By Matthew Russell Lee, Audio

UNITED NATIONS, November 20 – Yet more UN sexual abuse charges were quietly disclosed by the UN on November 20, allegations against "peacekeepers" from Tanzania and international civilian UN staff in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, photo here. This on a day where at the UN noon briefing, rather than announcing these sex abuse charges, the UN spokesman dodged Inner City Press' questions about two other UN corruption cases, the Deputy Secretary General improperly signing thousands of certificates for endangered rosewood from Nigeria and Cameroon already in China and giving a UN job to Germany's Ambassador's wife, here. What will the new "UN Victims' Advocate" Jane Connor do about these new abuses? UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on October 18 told Inner City Press he takes sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers very seriously. But when his Department of Public Information on October 19 promoted his new Peacekeeping website, Inner City Press found that the data about abuse and exploitation cases is buried, requiring at least four clicks even if one knows the route. Inner City Press raised this - and DPI's Number Two official Maher Nasser's response was “Seriously Mathew? The link to the Conducts & Discipline Unit is on home page, how is that hiding a choice? Can you ever be positive?” Actually, you'd have to know that the term “Standards of conduct” in a drop-down menu under “What Is Peacekeeping” is UN code for peacekeeper sexual abuse. Then after reading some propaganda, a link promises to take you to “up to date statistics.” But this leads to more propaganda, “Serving with Pride,” to the side of which is a box labeled “Statistics.” But clicking that still doesn't take you to the data. While DPI's Nasser wants - demands - that the press be “positive” or face eviction and restriction, it is hard to be positive about this. It is also inconsistent with the claims of commitment and transparency by Antonio Guterres, ostensibly Nasser's boss. Nasser proceeded, the day after Guterres didn't answer - his spokesman said Guterres didn't hear - Inner City Press' question about mass killing in Cameroon, to say “Not healthy to be so angry and so negative. But it seems that's your choice!!” Yes, as it doesn't hear about (some) mass killings, the UN wants a press corps that is positive, and evicts and restricts the “too negative” media. Under Nasser and now apparently his successor, it is a conflict of interest to allow officials who view their jobs as procuring positive coverage of the UN to be the ones to control the access and work space (or not) of independent, critical media. We'll have more on this - including because Nasser, the day after Inner City Press raised those questions on October 19, had delivered to Inner City Press a threat to its accreditation, then denied it the ability to even ask a question at the next event he moderated. The UN is a lawless and wasteful organization which often covers up for genocides like in Rwanda, Srebrenica, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and now Cameroon. On the small but related scale its Department of Public Information has engaged in censorship of the Press raising these abuses, under Cristina Gallach then three time loser Maher Nasser and at least until now Alison Smale. Gallach, who did no due diligence of convicted UN briber Ng Lap Seng's illegal events in the UN, evicted Inner City Press after it asked her about her links to Ng. Her interim replacement Maher Nasser, who applied to replace her but lost out again, never even replied to Inner City Press' written request to reverse the restrictions in April 2017. He claims it was responded to orally. So here is audio of his Kafka-esque "response" in August 2017, saying that because Inner City Press once offered to mop the floors of the UN in order to continue having access to puruse the Cameroon or other stories. He said the offer was an admission justifying 18 now 20 months of restrictions. He false claimed he would look into the no-show status of the Egyptian state media his DPI is trying to give Inner City Press' office to. He did nothing in two months. Why? He has taken, with typical UN impunity, to publicly deriding Inner City Press for not being “positive” enough, not only amid the genocide the UN allows and covers up for, but also his DPI's restrictions which hinder Inner City Press from covering it. He lost out to Alison Smale, but apparently has passed along his dubious “wisdom” and prejudice, along with others to be named, to Smale. Smale has not responded in six weeks to Inner City Press' two petitions. On October 18, when Inner City Press politely asked her if she had received the petitions, said yes and she acknowledged the need to show the “courtesy” of a response from her Department. Meaning Nasser, noted troller? More than twenty four hours later, still no response of any kind, even as the Egyptian state media to which Gallach and Nasser purported to give Inner City Press' office, Akhbar al Yom's Sanaa Youssef, didn't even come into the building, where Akhbar al Yom has asked not a single question for the entire time, more than a year. This is what Nasser means by positive: silent or bought. The irony is, if the UN weren't so lawlessly vindictive Inner City Press wouldn't even know the names of most of these people. So are they serving Antonio Guterres? We'll have more on this. Senior UN officials claim they care about and want coverage of crisis like those in Cameroon, then block Press coverage while taking public money while indulging their prejudices. More than a month ago Inner City Press wrote to UN Department of Public Information chief Alison Smale explaininghow the eviction and restrictions imposed by her predecessor Cristina Gallach would result in censorship and a reduction in coverage during the General Assembly Week. There was no response - and has been none since, such that Inner City Press was hindered on October 17 as it covered (Southern) Cameroonians raising questions bout Secretary General Antonio Guterres' praise of Paul Biya, UN cover up of his abuses prospectively during the Central Africa trip Smale wants to spin. And Guterres and his team know, his office has confirmed receipt of this, the Inner City Press has asked the UN "Spokesman, as is relevant here, about the UN Department of Public Information, about human rights violations in Cameroon unacted on by the UN, and about the UN's lack of transparency as identified not only by the Press but also the UN's own Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions. The answers were UNsatisfactory, and UN DPI has been entirely unresponsive... Other correspondents could walk around freely; I had to get an escort and minder. Meanwhile my long-time work space sat, for yet another day, unused by the Egyptian state media DPI has tried to assign it to, which rarely comes in and never asks questions. I have repeatedly written to the new head of DPI, without any response at all. I was told that since the former USG evicted Inner City Press, reversal would have to await the new USG. I waited, I wrote, I waited - nothing. Nothing at all. Nor now have there been answers about DPI's planned hiring of outside consultants, and if these would be used in the planned “good-news” coverage of the upcoming trip to the Central African Republic. These are all questions that should be answered, and the Press asking about this, and about Cameroon, Yemen, Myanmar, Western Sahara, Kenya and the UN “irregularities” exposed in the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe case should not be targeted and treated differently than other correspondents here. It is a conflict of interest for DPI, admittedly under Smale promoting your image, to control and limit the access of the critical independent press. There should have been rules - the meeting I covered 20 months ago was nowhere listed as closed, I got no hearing or appeal - and it should all now be belatedly reversed, Inner City Press restored to its work space in S-303 and resident correspondent returned." 24 hours, the clock continues to tick. From the very first day of the GA week, an event about migration no less, Inner City Press was arbitrarily banned. And on the Friday of the Week, Smale's DPI minders told Inner City Press it could not, as other less active correspondents could, speak to participants in the UN's (politicized) meeting about the humanitarian situation, just as it was also restricted in its coverage of Cameroon and other issues. This was raised to Smale the next day, when UN officials and diplomats were working (although many of Smale's "resident correspondents" like Egypt's Akhbar al Yom, Pakistan's Daily Dawn and others didn't even come in). But again from Smale, no reforms, no response. Perhaps this was due to the elections in her former beat, Germany. But these issues are her responsibility; she is being paid for this. Here's our September 23 Smale-mail: "Dear Under Secretary General Smale: This follows up on the request / petition I sent you earlier this month, before the now-concluding UN General Assembly High Level Week. My unjustifiable lack of resident correspondent status, which I had asked be restored before the High Level Week, has resulted for example in me being barred from speaking with attendees outside yesterday's Yemen humanitarian meeting. Resident Correspondents, including those who rarely come in and never ask questions, like Akhbar al Yom, were given access to passes to the 1B level, without escorts. For me, whose resident correspondent accreditation was taken without a hearing or appeal for pursuing the UN bribery story by covering a meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room, two separate escorts or minders were required to access the Yemen meeting. While inside the meeting I was told I could stakeout / wait outside the meeting and speak to participants as they left, my DPI minders told me I could not speak with anyone, even diplomats who wanted to speak. I reiterate my formal request to be restored to my longtime shared office S303 (I am willing to help rarely present Akhbar al Yom to relocate to the bullpen or wherever else), and to have my resident correspondent accreditation restored, early this coming week. I can provide any further information, by email, phone or in person. (By contrast, the only event Egypt state media Akhbar al Yom “covered” was the SG - Sisi bilateral, as UNCA “pool;” when I asked DPI's MALU for basic information such as who attended or was observed at the bilat, none was provided.) For your information during this High Level Week I put questions to the foreign minister of Libya, the UN's Libya envoy, the UK minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt (on Yemen), the head of UNRWA, the head of UNHCR (on Burundi), SRSG Louise Arbour (on Libya) and, as you saw, the EC minister and Deputy Secretary General. More could be said, but this should be enough. To continue to restrict my movements in the UN more than other journalist, to keep me out of my long time office such that I can barely and sometimes not download and edit video of these Q&A, in favor of a no-show, no-question state media is UNjustifiable. It should be reversed today, or early next week. Today Saturday I am writing this while covering the Secretary General's bilateral meetings on the 27th floor, if you are in the UN and need any further information. If you don't mind, please confirm receipt of this email." Not even that. Now the UN Security Council won't even hold a single Yemen meeting in September, despite its members' professions of concern. When a Yemen meeting during the UN General Assembly week was held at 8 am on September 22, new UN Relief Chief Mark Lowcock introduced as speakers the foreign ministers of Sweden and the Netherlands, representatives of Japan and the UAE, and the UN's dubious envoy Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed. While billed as a humanitarian meeting, the UAE spoke without irony about outside interference. (Yemen's representative spoke in Arabic; Inner City Press streamed Periscope video). To get to the meeting, held in UN Conference Room 5, Inner City Press unlike other no-show reporters like Egypt's Akhbar al Yom was required to get a UN escort or minder, who told Inner City Press it could not ask questions or speak with anyone. This despite UN OCHA telling Inner City Press it could wait outside and speak to people as they left. So the UN's retaliatory eviction of Inner City Press for covering UN corruption now results in it, unlike the Saudi and pro-Saudi media in the meeting, being unable to speak to the participants. This is today's UN - it has been directly raised to the new head of DPI, Alison Smale, without response as she focuses on the election on her previous beat, Germany. Now this, from the UNSC: "The briefing and consultation on Yemen is postponed for next month and we'll have no meeting scheduled tomorrow afternoon." Pathetic. As it this: while Canada joins The Netherlands at the UN in Geneva in calling for an investigation of possible war crimes in Yemen including the Saudi-led coalition's killing of civilians, Canada has continued a $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a press conference at the UN on September 21, Inner City Press went early, intending to ask him to explain this incongruity or seeming hypocrisy. Trudeau's spokesman announced that the questioners had been “pre-determined,” but did not explain how. So in a lull after what the spokesman called the last question - would Trudeau be a mediator on Venezuela - Inner City Press asked about Canadian arms sales to Saudi while calling for a probe. At first Trudeau said he was happy to answer the question. Then he said no, he would not reward “bad behavior,” and instead reached out for question in French about day care. (Inner City Press notes that pre-determining questioners is bad behavior. Apparently the CBC journalist who was given the first question agreed to it; the organization only the day before sent an Egyptian state media correspondent as the lone “pooler” in Secretary General Antonio Guterres' meeting with General Sisi.) Eearlier on September 21 when UK minister Alistair Burt came in front of the UN Security Council to speak about accountability for Daesh in Iraq, Inner City Press deferred to a timely question about the referendum in Kurdistan. Then during  lull - identical to that in which it put its question to Trudeau - Inner City Press asked Burt about his quote, about accountability for the bombing of civilians in Yemen by the Saudi-led Coalition with UK bombs, that "Our view is that it is for the Coalition itself, in the first instance, to conduct such investigations. They have the best insight into their own military procedures and will be able to conduct the most thorough and conclusive investigations.” Inner City Press asked how he can say this, given that the Saudis have investigated less than five percent of the killings. Video here. Burt's answer focused on the peace process - what peace process? At least Burt answered, and did not like Trudeau try to call merely asking the question in a lull "bad behavior" - we'll have more on this.

German Ambassador's Wife Given UN Job After Demand to UNSG Chief of Staff, ICP Asks


By Matthew Russell Lee, Video

UNITED NATIONS, November 20 – Inner City Press on November 20 asked Secretary General Antonio Guterres' deputy spokesman about not one but two of the scandals that surround him, beyond that involving endangered rosewood from Nigeria and Cameroon sent to China. Video here. Inner City Press asked about Germany's Ambassador to the UN  Christoph Heusgen writing to Guterres' chief of staff Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, citing Germany's financial contributions to get a UN job for his wife. As Inner City Press asked, there is one Ina Heusgen now with a Focal Point for Security post in UN Peacekeeping under Jean-Pierre Lacroix. 

The deputy spokesman Farhan Haq insisted that jobs are given out on merit, but refused to answer when Inner City Press asked for a description of how this UN job was given out, and which prospects who works their way up through the ranks were passed over. We'll have more on this. This is Antonio Guterres' UN - and so is this: a week after Guterres accepted a golden statue from Cameroon's 35-year president Paul Biya in Biya's palace in Yaounde, there were threats of prosecution against people who refuse to celebrate Biya's 35 years in power. Photo of letter here. So is this was Guterres celebrates, under the Guterres Doctrine? What is the relation to the illegal lumber exports signed off on by Guterres' Deputy, Amina J. Mohammed in the #RosewoodRacket? This involves "smuggling from Cameroon." See EIA video, hereThere were threats to Inner City Press' accreditation at the UN, here. Meanwhile the Swiss government has responded in a November 17 letter obtained and published by Inner City Press to issues raised by Southern Cameroonians there, stating in part that "Switzerland is concerned about the human rights situation in Cameroon... including the complex situation in the English speaking regions. In his last meeting with high level authorities of the government of Cameroon, the Swiss Ambassador in Yaounde expressed his concern about the situation in the two above-mentioned provinces. He also paid a visit to the Southwest region last month." Inner City Press notes: unlike Guterres and his Central Africa envoy Francois Fall. The Swiss letter continues, "President Biya's stays in Switzerland were either of private nature or of official nature in the framework of multilateral conferences in Geneva." We'll have more on this. Now another part of the UN system -- independent experts whom the UN Secretariat emphasizes are NOT the UN -- has belatedly spoken out where Guterres, Amina "Rosewood" Mohammed and Francois Fall have not. But then Fall essentially undercut the experts, focusing on attacks on security forces and... territorial integrity. Here's from Failing Fall's UNOCA: "The United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) continues to closely monitor the situation in the North-West and South-West Regions of Cameroon... Mr. François Louncény Fall seizes this opportunity to recall the commitment of the United Nations to the territorial integrity and unity of Cameroon." On November 17, Inner City Press asked Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, Tweeted video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: this François [Louncény] Fall statement.  And the reason I'm asking is that, as you may know five experts of Geneva-based special rapporteurs, including on freedom of expression, defense of human right defenders and others, issued a statement. The statement is largely focused on abuses by the Government of Anglophones, censorship, turning off social media.  They have a[n artificially low] death figure.  They talk about torture.  I know that they're not part of the UN system.  They do give briefings in this room.  They are appointed by the Human Rights Council.  What's the relationship between human rights experts saying the Government is killing Anglophones and François Fall saying territory is important and gendarmes have been killed? It seems like they're two opposing statements. Spokesman:  A, I don't think they're in contradiction of each other, and everybody has a different role within the wide and varied UN system.  The special rapporteurs, as you do note, are independent from the Secretariat and the Secretary-General, appointed by the Human Rights Council.  They are an extremely important part of the UN's human rights mechanism and, as a matter of principle, countries should cooperate with these human rights experts.  I'm not privy to their research or how they get their information.  As I said, they're independent.  We have over the past months, expressed our concern at the violence.  We've expressed our concern at the lack of Internet access.  The basic message that Mr. Fall and that the Secretary-General have reiterated is the fact that the situation in these two regions will best be addressed by an inclusive and genuine political dialogue. Inner City Press: I want to ask one follow-up.  And I asked you before, but I think you'll see the need to actually answer it now.  Mr. François Fall, in an interview played on UN Radio, said that secessionists are extremists and that federalism, which used to be the status of this area, is off the table.  Number one, that's why people don't see him as a credible mediator, but more importantly, the equation of nonviolent secessionists with extremists is exactly the logic that the Government uses to kill people from helicopter gunships, so that's why I'm asking you.  It seems like some of the problems that the human rights experts are criticizing are, in fact… I don't want to say caused by Mr. Fall's statement, but in some way resonant with the logic of… of saying that anyone that says we should be independent is an extremist and should be shot at from a helicopter. Spokesman:  "I don't agree with your logic, and I don't think in any way, shape, or form Mr. Fall should be blamed for what is going on in the country." So why did Failing Fall equate secessionists with extremists? And how can he remain Guterres' envoy to Cameroon? Where is the golden statue? Here is the Experts' full text: "GENEVA (17 November 2017) - The Government of Cameroon must engage representatives of the Anglophone population in a meaningful political dialogue and halt renewed violence in the south-west and north-west, where the country’s English-speaking minority are reportedly suffering worsening human rights violations, a group of UN experts has warned. “We urge the Government to adopt all necessary measures consistent with Cameroon’s human rights obligations to end the cycle of violence,” the experts said in a joint statement.  Up to 17 people have reportedly been killed, and dozens wounded and arrested in demonstrations in the country’s Anglophone regions since 1 October.  The experts are disturbed by reports of a series of measures taken by the national authorities, including curfews, a ban on public meetings, and other restrictions aimed at preventing peaceful protests. Excessive use of force by the security services, injuries, mass arrests, arbitrary detentions, torture and other ill-treatment have also been reported.  Freedom of expression has been reportedly limited by the blocking of internet connections and of access to social media platforms such as Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook, which a UN expert has previously condemned. “These restrictions must stop immediately, and the Government must ensure a thorough, impartial and independent investigation into all allegations of human rights violations perpetrated during and after the events of 1 October. The Government must take effective measures to prosecute and sanction all those responsible for such violations.” The appeal for action comes nearly a year after UN experts publicly urged the Government to halt violence against the English-speaking minority, following reports that Anglophone protesters in Buea and Bamenda had suffered undue force.  The experts also denounced any use of violence against members of the security forces, after reports that several were killed last week.  Since December 2016, the experts have repeatedly raised concerns directly with the Government of Cameroon and continue to monitor and seek clarification of the alleged human rights violations in the north-west and south-west of the country.  Ms. Annalisa Ciampi, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, Chair-Rappourteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues." What next? When will the UN's Failing Fall go see the Anglophone areas for himself, or be replaced? As Inner City Press asked the UN about on November 16, more than 46,000 people have so far petitioned Guterres to investigate and act on Mohammed's actions with respect (or disrespect) to natural resources in rosewood in Nigeria and Cameroon. But as on Cameroon, Guterres refuses so far to act. Meanwhile in the South West Region, there is a curfew and demand to register and give "weapons" to the government. On November 13, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: over the weekend, in Cameroon, in both the northwest and southwest, there was a collection apparently in light of not only armaments, rifles and handguns, but even hoes and cutlasses, it said, basically a total disarmament and… and… impinging on even farming work by people.  And I'm wondering, given that François Fall is… calls for a dialogue, what… is the UN aware of this?  There are written orders online that you can see telling people to turn all of these things in… Spokesman:  "I have nothing on these reports as of now." Nor six hours later.  On November 9, Inner City Press asked UN official Najat Rochdi, who was the head of the UN system in Cameroon until earlier this year and is now its deputy in the Central African Republic where Guterres just visited before Cameroon, if Guterres had spoken to her at all about Cameroon. No, she said, he had wanted to optimize his time. Video here. So apparently Guterres gets his information, and gold statues, from Paul Biya, or from Khassim Diagne, who was part of Rochdi's system. It is  closed loop, and a total failure. On November 8, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric (drawing a response of sorts, that "The Anglophones have been doing some shooting today"), UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on Cameroon, I know that there was a call by François [Lounceny] Fall and, I guess, the Secretary-General for dialogue with the “Anglophone regions”.  It's reported in the press in Yaoundé that the Government has sought international arrest warrants for 15 Anglophone leaders, and I'm wondering if that would be viewed as consistent with this call for dialogue and, if not, if the UN has anything to say about it. Spokesman Dujarric:  I don't have any information on those arrest warrants.  We, obviously, continue to call for calm and reiterate the availability of the UN to support the search for a lasting solution in the Anglophone provinces.  And we call on the… also on the authorities to ensure maximum restraint by security forces.  Evelyn? Evelyn Leopold: Yes.  I think the Anglophones did some shooting today." Video here;Leopold is retired from Reuters, still demands first questions at UN press conferences "on behalf of the United Nations Correspondents Association," wihch will charge money for an event with Antonio Guterres in mid-December - we will have more on this. On November 7 Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Duajrric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you two questions about Cameroon.  One is, since the Secretary-General's visit, one, there's a… there are reports of a crackdown in a place called Jakiri, where one gendarme was killed, and now basically everyone is being told there will be collective punishment unless a gun is turned over.  And I wanted to know, is Mr. [François Louncény] Fall… who… after the visit, who's keeping track of it?  Also, bigger picture maybe, the… the Cross River State Governor in Nigeria, Ben Ayade, has said that the border has essentially been closed for people fleeing the Cameroon… the anglophone region of Cameroon, and I wanted to know whether that's something that either Mr. Fall or on the… you know, UNHCR is aware of. Spokesman:  UNHCR, you can check with them.  I will… I don't have anything on… more on Cameroon. Inner City Press: if Mr. Fall was there on the trip… he wasn't in the photograph with the…Spokesman:  He was there.  We already said he was there. Inner City Press: All right.  So what was the… was any plan reached for continued work…? Spokesman:  If there's a further visit that he's able to make, we will announce it." Nothing.  On November 6, Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:has to do with Cameroon, where the Secretary-General stopped, met President [Paul] Biya.  Today, they're celebrating the thirty-fifth anniversary of his accession to power.  And a letter's emerged that orders all Government employees to participate in the ceremony marking the thirty-fifth year in power of Paul Biya, saying, basically, names should be provided, and they will be punished for not.  Given… I guess I'm just wondering, is the Sec… was the Secretary-General, when he stopped, when he took this golden statue, what did… was he aware of this?  What does he think of… is it… is it permissible, from the UN's point of view, for a Government to order its civil servants to mark the thirty-fifth year in power of a leader or face punishment, or should this be discouraged?  And does he have any comment on it? Deputy Spokesman:  Obviously, people everywhere have the right to freedom of movement, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly.  Those freedoms need to be respected in all circumstances.  Regarding the gift, Stéphane [Dujarric] made very clear to you that's a standard protocol gift — which happens in many different countries and contexts." The UN delivered a threat to Inner City Press to “review” it accreditation on October 20, using as its pretext an undefined violation with Periscope in UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' 38th floor conference room, and publishing audio from a UN stakeout, citing Cameroon. On October 31 at the UN Security Council stakeout, Cameroon's Ambassador approached Inner City Press and issued his own threat. Of the UN's 38th floor, he demanded of Inner City Press, "Who asked you to go to 38? I'm going to call, say for Matthew not to go upstairs. You've started... asking nasty questions." On November 2, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: a statement made by Cameroon's Permanent Representative to me at the Security Council stakeout, in a public area, saying, on 38, "Who asked you to be up there?  I'm going to make a call to make sure Matthew is not up there anymore.  You ask nasty questions."  So my question to you is, if a Member State, in this case a Member State that is subject to questions, nasty or not, were to call the 38th floor and say, I want a particular media to not be up there, why are [they] up there — what would be the response from the 38th floor?  I ask because I've gotten an accreditation threat for being up there.  That's why it’s strange… Spokesman:  Well, I think you're mixing… you know, if an event is open to the press, to the wider press, then everybody is welcome.  We are not… journalists here have to do their job.  There are obviously restrictions placed, depending on the event, but I guess the answer would be no.  Thank you." This from the UN Spokesman who threw Inner City Press out of the UN Press Briefing and then from its office, keeping it still restricted. This is today's UN. But can Inner City Press publish this threat, meant to hinder or prevent coverage of mass killing and displacement of Anglophones, without the UN's Department of Public Information's censorship machinery moving to review its accreditation, or using it as its rationale for continuing to keep Inner City Press from its long time office, keep it restricted in movement? DPI boss Alison Smale said she saw the need to respond to petitions to restore Inner City Press to its office and normal access - then her Department issued its October 20 threat. Now this. Watch this site - audio here.  Be aware: the audio is from Smale's own DPI. This UN has become disgusting.  The UN official who signed the letter, when Inner City Press went to ask about the undefined violation of live-streaming Periscope video at a photo op by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, had already left, minutes after sending the threat. What to make of the letter's vague statement, "filming and recording on the 38th floor are limited to official photo opportunities, and recording conversations of others in the room is not permitted. It has been brought to our attention that you breached that rule recently"? It's not only vague as to when, but absurd: once a Periscope is authorized to start streaming, it is impossible to not record someone who speaks loudly at the photo op. This comes two days after Inner City Press asked Guterres about the UN inaction on threatened genocide in Cameroon, and the UN claimed Guterres hadn't heard the 15-second long question.  Recently at a photo op, Guterres' adviser on Cameroon Khassim Diagne spoke loudly. Inner City Press later reported, based on sourcing, that Diagne who was previously the representative to Cameroon for UNHCR, the UN refugee agency Guterres ran, speaks in favor of Cameroon's government. Is this letter a response to the reporting? Is it retaliation? Is it intimidation to stop reporting on this threatened genocide? We can't ask the complainant, Maher Nasser: after the threat was delivered, he blocked Inner City Pres on Twitter, here.
  It also comes after Alison Smale the head of the Department of Public Information which would “review” Inner City Press' accreditation has ignored three separatepetitions from Inner City Press in the six weeks she has been in the job, urging her to remove restrictions on Inner City Press' reporting which hinder its coverage of the UN's performance in such crises as YemenKenya,Myanmar, and the Central African Republic where Guterres travels next week, with Smale's DPI saying its coverage of the trip will be a test of its public relations ability. But the UN official who triggered the complaint is Maher Nasser, who filled in for Smale before she arrived. 


His complaint is that audio of what he said to Inner City Press as it staked out the elevators in the UN lobby openly recording, as it has for example with Cameroon's Ambassador Tommo Monthe, here, was similarly published

A UN “Public Information” official is complaining about an article, and abusing his position to threaten to review Inner City Press' accreditation. The UN has previously been called out for targeting Inner City Press, and for having no rules or due process. But the UN is entirely UNaccountable, impunity on censorship as, bigger picture, on the cholera it brought to Haiti. And, it seems, Antonio Guterres has not reformed or reversed anything. This threat is from an official involved in the last round of retaliation who told Inner City Press on Twitter to be less "negative" about the UN - amid inaction on the mass killing in Cameroon - and who allowed pro-UN hecking of Inner City Press' questions about the cholera the UN brought to Haiti and the Ng Lap Seng /John Ashe UN bribery scandal which resulted in six guilty verdicts. We'll have more on this.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Amid OCC Scams on Sanctions & CRA, Withhold Otting Documents, Inner City Press & CRC Sue Under FOIA


By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, November 17 – Amid the scandal of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency covering up Sterling Bank'sunreliable Community Reinvestment Act data (see below) by withholding most of 400 pages released to Inner City Press under the Freedom of Information after the nomination of Joseph Otting, formerly of OneWest Bank to be Comptroller, back in July Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch and the California Reinvestment Coalition submitted this FOIA request. 

Now, after non-response by the OCC even has it promises merger approvals to banks with Needs to Improve CRA ratings and allows Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi to skirt North Korea sanctions review by fast approving applications for which effective public notice was never provided (ICP scoop on notice here), now ICP and CRC have filed suit, stating "No formal response was ever received from the OCC in response to Plaintiffs’ FOIA Request. To date, the OCC has not disclosed any records responsive to Plaintiffs’ FOIA Request nor has sent any correspondence to Plaintiffs informing
them of the OCC’s need for an extension of time to process the FOIA Request. As of November 10, 2017, Plaintiffs’ FOIA Request was listed as 'In Process' on the OCC’s FOIA request portal... Defendant has far exceeded the 20-working day statutory time limit for the processing of FOIA requests, as required by 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A). 12. Plaintiffs have a statutory right to the records sought in its requests... WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for relief as follows: A. Order Defendant to conduct a reasonable search for all records responsive to Plaintiffs’ FOIA Request, and to immediately disclose all records or portions of records responsive to the FOIA Request in their entirety that are non- exempt; B. Issue a declaratory judgment that Plaintiffs are entitled to disclosure of the records responsive to Plaintiffs’ FOIA Request; C. Enjoin Defendant from continuing to withhold responsive, non-exempt records or portions of records from Plaintiffs; D. Provide for expeditious proceedings of this action... Dated: November 17, 2017 By: s/ James H. Kaster." 

Watch this site. As to Otting, beyond his gaming of the CRA system, another problem has arisen: Otting misrepresented his resume on education. He listed a degree on his resume from the "School of Credit and Financial Management at Dartmouth College." It's a fraud. "Joseph Otting is not a Dartmouth graduate," Dartmouth spokeswoman Diana Lawrence said. "Dartmouth does not have a school of credit and financial management." In turns out the school is a four-week program spread over two years, which rented space from Dartmouth. It's not only Sterling's CRA data is an unreliable. While at OneWest, as reported by Inner City Press in 2015, Otting was best know for trying to get his own employees, fundees and investors to submit comments to the OCC to support OneWest's purchase by CIT.  Click here. Otting wrote: 

From: Otting, Joseph M [at] owb.com
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2015 5:00 PM
Cc: Haas, Alesia Jeanne; Tran, Cindy; Kim, Glenn
Subject: Support For OneWest Bank

Dear Friends,

We were excited to announce on July 21, 2014, that IMB HoldCo LLC, the parent company of OneWest Bank entered into a merger agreement with CIT Group Inc. As part of the applications for regulatory approval of the transaction, our regulators are interested in the perspectives of the public. We are writing you to seek your support of the Bank and pending merger. This merger, if approved, would create the largest bank headquartered in Southern California with a full suite of banking products and services, which will allow us to better serve our customers. We would retain and grow jobs and are committed to continuing and expanding our efforts to serve the economic and development needs of our community. I would like to ask you to take a moment to click on the link below and submit a letter of support adding any of your own words or thoughts.

Please submit your letter by clicking here, or by visiting our website at www.OneWestBank.com/merger-support (if the link isn't clickable or part of the link is cut off, please copy and paste the entire URL into your browser's address bar and press Enter)

Thank you for your support.  Best wishes for a successful 2015 and please call on me if I can ever be of assistance.

Joseph M. Otting
President and CEO
OneWest Bank N.A.
888 East Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA 91101
  Inner City Press and the California Reinvestment Coalition, both members of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) will have more on this. 

***

Japan's Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi Skirts North Korea Sanctions With "Incorrect" Application to US OCC, Public Excluded


By Matthew Russell Lee, Photo

UNITED NATIONS, November 17 – Amid talk of increased enforcement of sanctions on North Korea, and possible imposition of new sanctions against Myanmar, a November 13 letter from the New York State Department of Financial Services cites Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi for “continuing compliance failures in Hong Kong, which has a 'repeat transaction' program for certain high risk clients in Chinese cities bordering North Korea. The repeat transaction program results in not more but less scrutiny of these clients transactions.” 

The NYSDFS letter also notes that BTMU has processed transaction through its New York branch for “Burmese parties” on the OFAC sanctions list. How did Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi react to the New York regulator's investigation of these issues? It applied on October 30 to switch to the more lax Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and had its application approved in a mere week, then threw the state regulators out of its New York branch on Sixth Avenue. All this just a few blocks from the United Nations whose Security Council, on which Japan has a seat until the end of the year, has imposed rounds of sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear weapons program, and was set to vote for a new UN Special Envoy on Myanmar, or Burma, on November 16. What's going on? 

Now Inner City Press can exclusively report a further outrage, not included in the NYSDFS letter nor a Wall Street Journal article which quoted it. The OCC gave its approval in a week even while belatedly listing Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi's filings under "THESE APPLICATIONS APPEARED INCORRECTLY IN A PRIOR WEEKLY BULLETIN." Photo here; link to Bulletin here. The public, as is the trend under the OCC, was cut out. The face savings compliance agreement, here, does not cure or address this. The OCC is lax not only in sanctions compliance and absurdly short comment periods on corporate applications - it also markets itself to banks as being “flexible” on other compliance issues including the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act. Recently the OCC announced that even a rare less than satisfactory CRA rating would not bar approval of a bank's application, click here for that Inner City Press coverage. A new Comptroller, Joseph Otting formerly of OneWest Bank, is set to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate this week, even while the OCC has refused to answer a pending Press (and CRC) request under the Freedom of Information Act. A lawsuit has now been filed. What will a FOIA request into the OCC's communications with Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi yield? Watch this site.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Jailed Journalist Ahmed Abba of Cameroon Feted By CPJ Near UN Which Didn't Raise Case to Biya


By Matthew Russell Lee, UN Audio

UNITED NATIONS, November 15 – The government of Cameroon, where Paul Biya has been president for 35 years, has sentence journalist Ahmed Abba to 10 years in prison on terrorism-related charges. On November 15 in New York, Abba was given, in absentia, an International Press Freedom Award by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). 

The event was in a hotel ballroom three blocks from the United Nations, where Inner City Press had earlier on November 15 asked the deputy spokesperson for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres if Guterres had even raised Abba's case when he met with Biya and received from his a gold statue in late October in Yaounde. (The answer appears to be, No.) 

So Inner City Press went to cover the event, and in the absence of the imprisoned Abba interviewed the coordinator of CPJ's Africa program Angela Quintal, mostly on Cameroon but also on Burundi, Zambia, Tanzania, the UN and Lesotho, which Quintal brought up.
   Quintal said that Cameroon had “stalled” visas when CPJ was slated to visit the country in April and so the visit never happened. Citing Inner City Press' questions to the UN, she brought up the Anglophone areas and journalists arrested there. Inner City Press asked her about the cut-off and now hindering of the Internet in the Northwest and Southwest of the country, so that government abuses cannot be reported. She said that is of concern to CPJ, and opined that the Biya government wants to ensure that conflicts cannot be reported, even less so than in neighboring Nigeria.
   She said Biya's Information Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary is “pretty good at stalling,” and said CPJ has tried to get Abba's case raised by the EU, US and African Union. Inner City Press asked her about Burundi, where it seems international focus has waned. She did not disagree, noting that the number of journalists trying to leave Burundi has fallen, because most who wanted to leave already have. She said on where to devote CPJ resources there are hard choice, and then went off the record, which we respect.
  Back on the record, Quintal noted that CPJ has had success in getting a journalist released in Zambia (Chanda Chimba) while acknowledging that more must be done. That much is true. As Inner City Press rushed out of the Grand Hyatt to get back to the UN before the 7 pm curfew imposed on it for the past 21 months for reporting on a meeting, in the UN Press Briefing Room, of the UN Correspondents Association to see if they discussed funds received for their ball from now convicted UN briber Ng Lap Seng, CPJ welcomed to its fundraiser an UNCA president who vowed to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN if it did not remove an article from the Internet. CPJ was informed of all of this, and has done nothing. Yes, there are hard choices. We'll have more on this. And on this, on Cameroon: a week after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres accepted a golden statue from Cameroon's 35-year president Paul Biya in Biya's palace in Yaounde, there were threats of prosecution against people who refuse to celebrate Biya's 35 years in power. Photo of letter here. So is this was Guterres celebrates, under the Guterres Doctrine? What is the relation to the illegal lumber exports signed off on by Guterres' Deputy, Amina J. Mohammed in the #RosewoodRacket? This 
involves "smuggling from Cameroon." See EIA video, hereThere were threats to Inner City Press' accreditation at the UN, here. On November 15, Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcripthere: Inner City Press:  since the Secretary-General's going to give this speech on… on countering terrorism while it's en… you know, holding up values, tonight, Cameroonian journalist Ahmed Abba is going to get an award… the International Press Freedom Award, not in person because he's been sentenced to ten years in jail for reporting on the conflict in Cameroon.  He's been convicted under antiterrorism laws.  So, it made me wonder, when the Secretary-General visited, met with President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, who's largely responsible for this prosecution and imprisonment of a journalist, was this issue raised? And… and does it fall within the ambit of the Secretary-General's views of proper use or improper use of terrorism laws, in this case, to imprison a journalist? Deputy Spokesman:  "The Secretary-General has made it clear that any measures that are counter-terrorist measures should not be used to restrict the enjoyment of human rights in any aspect, including freedom of expression and freedom of the media.  And that would be the case here, as well." But did Guterres raise it? Will he? Meanwhile in the South West Region, there is a curfew and demand to register and give "weapons" to the government. On November 13, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: over the weekend, in Cameroon, in both the northwest and southwest, there was a collection apparently in light of not only armaments, rifles and handguns, but even hoes and cutlasses, it said, basically a total disarmament and… and… impinging on even farming work by people.  And I'm wondering, given that François Fall is… calls for a dialogue, what… is the UN aware of this?  There are written orders online that you can see telling people to turn all of these things in… Spokesman:  "I have nothing on these reports as of now." Nor six hours later.  On November 9, Inner City Press asked UN official Najat Rochdi, who was the head of the UN system in Cameroon until earlier this year and is now its deputy in the Central African Republic where Guterres just visited before Cameroon, if Guterres had spoken to her at all about Cameroon. No, she said, he had wanted to optimize his time. Video here. So apparently Guterres gets his information, and gold statues, from Paul Biya, or from Khassim Diagne, who was part of Rochdi's system. It is  closed loop, and a total failure. On November 8, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric (drawing a response of sorts, that "The Anglophones have been doing some shooting today"), UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on Cameroon, I know that there was a call by François [Lounceny] Fall and, I guess, the Secretary-General for dialogue with the “Anglophone regions”.  It's reported in the press in Yaoundé that the Government has sought international arrest warrants for 15 Anglophone leaders, and I'm wondering if that would be viewed as consistent with this call for dialogue and, if not, if the UN has anything to say about it. Spokesman Dujarric:  I don't have any information on those arrest warrants.  We, obviously, continue to call for calm and reiterate the availability of the UN to support the search for a lasting solution in the Anglophone provinces.  And we call on the… also on the authorities to ensure maximum restraint by security forces.  Evelyn? Evelyn Leopold: Yes.  I think the Anglophones did some shooting today." Video here; Leopold is retired from Reuters, still demands first questions at UN press conferences "on behalf of the United Nations Correspondents Association," wihch will charge money for an event with Antonio Guterres in mid-December - we will have more on this. On November 7 Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Duajrric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you two questions about Cameroon.  One is, since the Secretary-General's visit, one, there's a… there are reports of a crackdown in a place called Jakiri, where one gendarme was killed, and now basically everyone is being told there will be collective punishment unless a gun is turned over.  And I wanted to know, is Mr. [François Louncény] Fall… who… after the visit, who's keeping track of it?  Also, bigger picture maybe, the… the Cross River State Governor in Nigeria, Ben Ayade, has said that the border has essentially been closed for people fleeing the Cameroon… the anglophone region of Cameroon, and I wanted to know whether that's something that either Mr. Fall or on the… you know, UNHCR is aware of. Spokesman:  UNHCR, you can check with them.  I will… I don't have anything on… more on Cameroon. Inner City Press: if Mr. Fall was there on the trip… he wasn't in the photograph with the…Spokesman:  He was there.  We already said he was there. Inner City Press: All right.  So what was the… was any plan reached for continued work…? Spokesman:  If there's a further visit that he's able to make, we will announce it." Nothing.  On November 6, Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:has to do with Cameroon, where the Secretary-General stopped, met President [Paul] Biya.  Today, they're celebrating the thirty-fifth anniversary of his accession to power.  And a letter's emerged that orders all Government employees to participate in the ceremony marking the thirty-fifth year in power of Paul Biya, saying, basically, names should be provided, and they will be punished for not.  Given… I guess I'm just wondering, is the Sec… was the Secretary-General, when he stopped, when he took this golden statue, what did… was he aware of this?  What does he think of… is it… is it permissible, from the UN's point of view, for a Government to order its civil servants to mark the thirty-fifth year in power of a leader or face punishment, or should this be discouraged?  And does he have any comment on it? Deputy Spokesman:  Obviously, people everywhere have the right to freedom of movement, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly.  Those freedoms need to be respected in all circumstances.  Regarding the gift, Stéphane [Dujarric] made very clear to you that's a standard protocol gift — which happens in many different countries and contexts." The UN delivered a threat to Inner City Press to “review” it accreditation on October 20, using as its pretext an undefined violation with Periscope in UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' 38th floor conference room, and publishing audio from a UN stakeout, citing Cameroon. On October 31 at the UN Security Council stakeout, Cameroon's Ambassador approached Inner City Press and issued his own threat. Of the UN's 38th floor, he demanded of Inner City Press, "Who asked you to go to 38? I'm going to call, say for Matthew not to go upstairs. You've started... asking nasty questions." On November 2, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: a statement made by Cameroon's Permanent Representative to me at the Security Council stakeout, in a public area, saying, on 38, "Who asked you to be up there?  I'm going to make a call to make sure Matthew is not up there anymore.  You ask nasty questions."  So my question to you is, if a Member State, in this case a Member State that is subject to questions, nasty or not, were to call the 38th floor and say, I want a particular media to not be up there, why are [they] up there — what would be the response from the 38th floor?  I ask because I've gotten an accreditation threat for being up there.  That's why it’s strange… Spokesman:  Well, I think you're mixing… you know, if an event is open to the press, to the wider press, then everybody is welcome.  We are not… journalists here have to do their job.  There are obviously restrictions placed, depending on the event, but I guess the answer would be no.  Thank you." This from the UN Spokesman who threw Inner City Press out of the UN Press Briefing and then from its office, keeping it still restricted. This is today's UN. But can Inner City Press publish this threat, meant to hinder or prevent coverage of mass killing and displacement of Anglophones, without the UN's Department of Public Information's censorship machinery moving to review its accreditation, or using it as its rationale for continuing to keep Inner City Press from its long time office, keep it restricted in movement? DPI boss Alison Smale said she saw the need to respond to petitions to restore Inner City Press to its office and normal access - then her Department issued its October 20 threat. Now this. Watch this site - audio here.  Be aware: the audio is from Smale's own DPI. This UN has become disgusting.  The UN official who signed the letter, when Inner City Press went to ask about the undefined violation of live-streaming Periscope video at a photo op by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, had already left, minutes after sending the threat. What to make of the letter's vague statement, "filming and recording on the 38th floor are limited to official photo opportunities, and recording conversations of others in the room is not permitted. It has been brought to our attention that you breached that rule recently"? It's not only vague as to when, but absurd: once a Periscope is authorized to start streaming, it is impossible to not record someone who speaks loudly at the photo op. This comes two days after Inner City Press asked Guterres about the UN inaction on threatened genocide in Cameroon, and the UN claimed Guterres hadn't heard the 15-second long question.  Recently at a photo op, Guterres' adviser on Cameroon Khassim Diagne spoke loudly. Inner City Press later reported, based on sourcing, that Diagne who was previously the representative to Cameroon for UNHCR, the UN refugee agency Guterres ran, speaks in favor of Cameroon's government. Is this letter a response to the reporting? Is it retaliation? Is it intimidation to stop reporting on this threatened genocide? We can't ask the complainant, Maher Nasser: after the threat was delivered, he blocked Inner City Pres on Twitter, here.
  It also comes after Alison Smale the head of the Department of Public Information which would “review” Inner City Press' accreditation has ignored three separatepetitions from Inner City Press in the six weeks she has been in the job, urging her to remove restrictions on Inner City Press' reporting which hinder its coverage of the UN's performance in such crises as YemenKenya,Myanmar, and the Central African Republic where Guterres travels next week, with Smale's DPI saying its coverage of the trip will be a test of its public relations ability. But the UN official who triggered the complaint is Maher Nasser, who filled in for Smale before she arrived. 


His complaint is that audio of what he said to Inner City Press as it staked out the elevators in the UN lobby openly recording, as it has for example with Cameroon's Ambassador Tommo Monthe, here, was similarly published

A UN “Public Information” official is complaining about an article, and abusing his position to threaten to review Inner City Press' accreditation. The UN has previously been called out for targeting Inner City Press, and for having no rules or due process. But the UN is entirely UNaccountable, impunity on censorship as, bigger picture, on the cholera it brought to Haiti. And, it seems, Antonio Guterres has not reformed or reversed anything. This threat is from an official involved in the last round of retaliation who told Inner City Press on Twitter to be less "negative" about the UN - amid inaction on the mass killing in Cameroon - and who allowed pro-UN hecking of Inner City Press' questions about the cholera the UN brought to Haiti and the Ng Lap Seng /John Ashe UN bribery scandal which resulted in six guilty verdicts. We'll have more on this.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

At UN Pension Fund, Benefits Manually Calculated Despite IPAS Spending, Audit Finds


By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series


UNITED NATIONS, November 14 – With UN Pension Fund problems including late payments and $3.4 billion in foreign exchange costs leading to the departure of Secretary General Antonio Guterres' representative to the Fund Carolyn Boykin, who issued a gag order to staff not to leak to Inner City Press, problems remain. On Halloween we first wrote of Boykin's replaced Sudhir Rajkumar, triggering much feedback into which, despite the restrictions and threats by Guterres' Department of Public Information, we are digging. 

Now this: the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services audit of the UN Pension Fund's implementation of the so-called Integrated Pension Administration System (IPAS) found that because "the benefit calculations performed in IPAS were not always reliable, PES staff manually calculated and verified them, with the resultant impact on efficiency." Paragraph 28 of the audit, which Inner City Press is putting online here, on Patreon. Who will be held accountable for this? Or for this? On November 9, Inner City Press first reported and asked the UN about this: a UN Office of Internal Oversight Service audit has found at least $1.8 million in unauthorized spending, and much PCW work being done outside the contours of the agreed contract, at higher cost to the UN. We've put the audit online, here, on Patreon, with these questions: How much pension fund money was overspent on the 75 percent of services that were not bid for? (If there had been bidding for the other services, there may have been less use of $475 an hour partners. Having signed a contract for low-cost accountancy services, how did PWC accept to provide high-cost consultancy services without a new contract being signed? Was there collusion between PWC and Pension Fund staff? Doesn't the buck stop with, or in this case flow from, the CEO? And this: the six UN Participant Representatives have asked Guterres to NOT reappoint the current CEO of the pension fund, Sergio Arvizu. We've published the letter on Patreon, here. Already, the Board has proposed only a three year and not a five year reappoint. The six UN Participant Representatives say it should be zero, based on: "a poorly implemented new IT system with no contingency planning, leaving retirees without income, many for more than nine months; attempts, since blocked by the General Assembly, to remove OIOS as the Fund’s auditor; attempts to remove the Fund from the UN’s administrative oversight by creating new
staff and financial rules; attempts to circumvent rules on procurement and receiving gifts. It should be noted that the current payment backlog to widows, orphans and retirees still numbers in the thousands. For almost three years the CEO has refused to meet with staff representatives at the Fund despite multiple attempts by staff. The CEO has misrepresented good faith and constructive efforts made by the UN’s Department of Management to resolve the situation involving two staff of the Fund’s
Secretariat elected to the Board." On this last, the "UN Appeals Tribunal last week ruledillegal a decision by the pension fund’s board to exclude two of the six members that you, as UN staff, elected back in April.
" We'll have more on this, and on what Guterres does.

At UN Pension Fund, Benefits Manually Calculated Despite IPAS Spending, Audit Finds


By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series


UNITED NATIONS, November 14 – With UN Pension Fund problems including late payments and $3.4 billion in foreign exchange costs leading to the departure of Secretary General Antonio Guterres' representative to the Fund Carolyn Boykin, who issued a gag order to staff not to leak to Inner City Press, problems remain. On Halloween we first wrote of Boykin's replaced Sudhir Rajkumar, triggering much feedback into which, despite the restrictions and threats by Guterres' Department of Public Information, we are digging. 

Now this: the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services audit of the UN Pension Fund's implementation of the so-called Integrated Pension Administration System (IPAS) found that because "the benefit calculations performed in IPAS were not always reliable, PES staff manually calculated and verified them, with the resultant impact on efficiency." Paragraph 28 of the audit, which Inner City Press is putting online here, on Patreon. Who will be held accountable for this? Or for this? On November 9, Inner City Press first reported and asked the UN about this: a UN Office of Internal Oversight Service audit has found at least $1.8 million in unauthorized spending, and much PCW work being done outside the contours of the agreed contract, at higher cost to the UN. We've put the audit online, here, on Patreon, with these questions: How much pension fund money was overspent on the 75 percent of services that were not bid for? (If there had been bidding for the other services, there may have been less use of $475 an hour partners. Having signed a contract for low-cost accountancy services, how did PWC accept to provide high-cost consultancy services without a new contract being signed? Was there collusion between PWC and Pension Fund staff? Doesn't the buck stop with, or in this case flow from, the CEO? And this: the six UN Participant Representatives have asked Guterres to NOT reappoint the current CEO of the pension fund, Sergio Arvizu. We've published the letter on Patreon, here. Already, the Board has proposed only a three year and not a five year reappoint. The six UN Participant Representatives say it should be zero, based on: "a poorly implemented new IT system with no contingency planning, leaving retirees without income, many for more than nine months; attempts, since blocked by the General Assembly, to remove OIOS as the Fund’s auditor; attempts to remove the Fund from the UN’s administrative oversight by creating new
staff and financial rules; attempts to circumvent rules on procurement and receiving gifts. It should be noted that the current payment backlog to widows, orphans and retirees still numbers in the thousands. For almost three years the CEO has refused to meet with staff representatives at the Fund despite multiple attempts by staff. The CEO has misrepresented good faith and constructive efforts made by the UN’s Department of Management to resolve the situation involving two staff of the Fund’s
Secretariat elected to the Board." On this last, the "UN Appeals Tribunal last week ruledillegal a decision by the pension fund’s board to exclude two of the six members that you, as UN staff, elected back in April.
" We'll have more on this, and on what Guterres does.