DearSir, l RAY Fleming's Viewpoint in Wednesday's edition highlights his anger at those who imply that corruption is endemic in the UN. I get the impression he feels that his positive experience as a former servant of the UN is sufficient to refute these assertions. I have also worked for the UN. On each of the five projects I was on site and in charge of the budget. In every one there was blatant corruption involving the local Government and Contractors. I too was angry, but at the UN Agencies' permanent staff who in each case ignored formal reports detailing the misuse of funds. Funds supposedly directed to the poorest people in the world. One of the biggest abusers is currently in the news- “Equatorial Guinea,” no news to the World Bank who to my personal knowledge has acquiesced at open bribery since 1985.

Perhaps unwittingly Mr Fleming alluded to one of the problems of nepotism.
The latest alleged dishonesty concerns the son of the Secretary General while working for a UN Contractor. Ever since the founding of the UN and its offspring agencies, directors and staff have been chosen by ability and by national quotas with a bias toward the Third World. This would appear quite sensible as the major objective of the organisation is to develop these poorer countries. However due to the corrupt politics existing in most undeveloped countries the only applicants allowed are those acceptable to their government, chosen on the principal of nepotism, paying off past debts or buying future loyalty. The result is a structure not there to improve the lot of others but to maintain their lot of tax free dollar salaries, tax free shopping and diplomatic immunity.

Reports on corruption are systematically suppressed so as not to derail the gravy chain. Streetwise UN contractors know this and ensure they have well connected people on their staff.

Other International Organisations such as the Islamic, Asian and European Development Banks have been structured on similar weak foundations and also suffer excessive corruption. The homage to a trio of Kojo/Kofi/Cotecna brings back memories of a project funded by the Islamic Development Bank when they asked and paid for the help of UNIDO. The IDB project director specified the technical expert to be brought in under the UN banner. He then recommended the contractor, agreed the budget and subsequently sanctioned the stage payments. These were authorised by the project director and paid. When UNIDO was advised that the project director and technical expert were undeclared owners of the contracting company nothing was done. I expect the same outcome over this latest scandal.

Mike Lillico, Playa de Palma


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