The Rosett Report

In the Shadow of the Wolfowitz Wars -- the Melkert & Malloch Brown Dollars-for-Despots Program

A note, below, to go with the link here to an article I have out in the current Weekly Standard, on the strange doings in the vast portion of the UN empire known as the UN Development Program –and why, if there are any genuine ethicists out there, this outfit, now dispensing more than $5 billion per year around the globe, flagship of the UN agencies, desperately needs their attention.

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It would complete the grand hypocrisy were the war smoke rising over Paul Wolfowitz’s presidency at the World Bank to obscure entirely the horrific scandal at the UN unearthed by the U.S. Mission back in January — Cash for Kim — in which the UN Development Program, or UNDP, was discovered shoveling hard currency to the rogue regime of Kim Jong Il.

Well, guess what? While all eyes have been on the World Bank, the UNDP’s embarrassing Cash for Kim problem has been slipping quietly out of sight, in a classic UN whitewash — with the promised UN inquiry greatly narrowed, delayed, and hamstrung by the failure of the auditors even to request visas to visit North Korea.

That’s quite a boon to two of the men who have been piously wringing their hands over ethics at the World Bank, Ad Melkert and Mark Malloch Brown. Between them, they have run the UNDP for most of the past eight years — Malloch Brown as top boss from 1999-2005, and Melkert as number two man and hands-on manager since early 2006. It was Melkert who faced the press the day that Cash for Kim hit the headlines, January 19. Questioned by skeptical reporters about UNDP promises of transparency, he said, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

As it turned out, the one who hadn’t seen “nothing yet” was Paul Wolfowitz, blind-sided at the World Bank when 12 days later, on Jan. 31, the complaints first surfaced about Shaha Riza’s pay package. As the fray escalated, both Malloch Brown and Melkert had their say about the World Bank…especially Melkert, who before coming to the UNDP had served at the Bank as head of the ethics committee that set the snare into which Wolfowitz stepped.

Meanwhile, neither Malloch Brown nor Melkert has been called to account for management oddities under their own respective stewardships at the UNDP, where Cash for Kim is less an anomaly than a symptom of a whole range of curious doings worldwide. These include UNDP projects not audited at all, audits turned in late or not at all, and money passed to peculiar projects run by despotic regimes well beyond North Korea — for example, UNDP support to the state-run airline of Syria. Last year, the UN Board of Auditors noted in a financial report on the UNDP, covering the final Malloch-Brown years of 2004 and 2005, that “The Board is concerned at the large number of financial management, record keeping and control issues” — and that’s just a sample of the complaints.

At the World Bank, we’ve just seen plenty. At the UNDP, as Inner-City Press noted back in January, we still ain’t seen nothing yet. When does that start?