Skip to comments.U.N. High Tech for Kim - Add Burma to the list of scandals.
Posted on 07/19/2007 9:09:58 PM PDT by gpapa
The United Nations' Cash for Kim Jong Il scandal is now six months old, so it's a good time to assess progress, if that's the right word. The evidence of misdeeds at the U.N. Development Program in North Korea continues to mount, but there's still no "urgent" and "external" inquiry, as ordered by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in January.
Now the U.S. has uncovered evidence that in addition to transferring millions of dollars in cash that may have gone to help prop up Kim's grotesque regime, the UNDP also transferred dual-use technology. It did so without bothering to secure a U.S. export license and despite the fact that the Commerce Department had denied an earlier application for a license for technology for the same project. Our Melanie Kirkpatrick lays out the details nearby.
(Excerpt) Read more at opinionjournal.com ...
UN/NK scandal ping
From Oil for Food to the latest scandals involving U.N. funding in North Korea, Maurice Strong appears as a shadowy and often critically important figure.
Officially, Strong cut his ties to the U.N. Secretariat almost two years ago, as federal investigators homed in on the discovery that back in 1997, while serving as a top adviser to then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan, he took a check for almost $1 million that was bankrolled by Saddam Husseins U.N.-sanctioned regime. The check was delivered by a South Korean businessman, Tongsun Park, who was convicted last summer in New York Federal Court of conspiring to bribe U.N. officials on behalf of Baghdad. Strong denied any wrongdoing and said he would step aside from his U.N. envoy post until the matter was cleared up.
Strongs behind-the-scenes maneuvering has also put him in the cockpit of global power politics. From 2003 to 2005, he served as Annans personal envoy to the nuclear-crisis-wracked Korean peninsula. That role took him to Pyongyang, and also brought him into close contact with the South Korean government, where Ban Ki-moon, who last month took over from Annan as U.N. Secretary-General, was then foreign minister. In 2004, for example, Ban and Strong shared a head table at the annual dinner of the Korea Society in New York.
South Korean diplomats have downplayed any connections between Ban and Strong. But one of Bans first acts when he took charge at the U.N. last month was to appoint as his head of management a Strong protégé, Alicia Barcena, a Mexican environmentalist. It was Strong who brought Barcena into the U.N. orbit, in 1991, to help organize the Rio summit on the environment, which he chaired in 1992. To prepare and then follow up on the Rio agenda, Strong founded a network called the Earth Council Alliance, in which Barcena served until 1995 as the founding director of the flagship chapter, based in Costa Rica. She then moved on to jobs inside the U.N. system, including work with UNEP and UNDP. When Strong took charge of the University for Peace along with his other projects eight years ago, he invited the Costa Rica Earth Council to move its offices onto the university campus, where it was absorbed into the U Peace structure and curriculum.
In her current slot as chief of the U.N.s administrative and financial operations, Barcena looks likely to have a managerial hand in an audit that Ban has promised of U.N. related flows of money to North Korea in which Strongs University for Peace played a part.
And for a tiny outfit in Central America, U Peace has developed an extraordinary recent interest in North Korea. Starting with a push by Annan in 2003 for a U.N. development strategy for North Korea, that interest appears to have migrated from an inter-agency task force convened by Strong inside the UNDP, to an initiative pursued by Strong via U Peace a vehicle exempt from any normal U.N. oversight.
In 2004, with a seed donation of about $330,000 from the Canadian International Development Agency (of which Strong was the founding president from 1968-1970), U Peace set up a trust fund dedicated to North Korean projects, called the DPRK Trust Fund. That same year, 2004, Strong hosted a conference in Vevey, Switzerland, on North Korean energy scenarios. That conference served as a basis for a 2005 report supervised by Strong, and underwritten by U Peace. Along with Canadian money, U.S. government records show that the funding for the report also included a $25,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. A former Energy Department assistant secretary, William Martin, worked on the 2005 report, and recently took over from Strong as head of the U Peace governing council.
Among the contributors to the U Peace energy report, described in it as acting in a personal capacity, is a former head of UNDPs regional bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Nay Htun, who spends part of his time working in the New York office of U Peace, according to the head of that office, Narinder Kakar. (Nay Htun, an engineer, unsuccessfully ran last year to become head of the World Health Organization, as a candidate sponsored by Burma.)
At this point the cross ties grow at a blinding pace between U Peace and other U.N. ventures in which Strong played a leading role.
The U Peace report concludes, for example, with proposals for a $1.4 million energy project for North Korea, one third of that supported in cash and in-kind by the government of North Korea, and the rest to be funded by $150,000 from the UNDP and $750,000 from a U.N. outfit called the Global Environment Facility, or GEF.
The GEF, spawned by the 1992 Rio conference (which Strong chaired) is a joint effort of UNEP (which Strong founded) and the World Bank (where Strong was appointed in 1995 as a senior adviser to the president) and the UNDP (run from 1999-2005 by Strongs former World Bank colleague, Mark Malloch Brown, and from 2005 to the present by another of Strongs former World Bank colleagues, Kemal Dervis).
The report prescribes that the follow-up on its energy project be implemented by North Koreas National Coordinating Committee for the Environment and the DPRK Academy of Sciences an outfit that quite likely includes North Korean officials involved in the countrys missile and nuclear bomb programs.
And last summer, using the UNDPs staff and diplomatically privileged facilities to handle the travel arrangements, and the money, U Peace paid to send a delegation of 10 North Korean officials to an energy conference at Lund University, in Sweden. U.N. internal documents seen by Fox show that the payment for the North Korean travel was requested by the U Peace office in Switzerland, handled by former UNDP official Nay Htun in New York, and involved bankrolling the airfares and transferring cash stipends to the traveling North Korean officials via the UNDP office in Pyongyang.
The use of U Peace as the financier of the junket served at least one important purpose: it allowed UNDP to declare, if asked, that it had not violated any internal rules about financing North Korean travel or using hard currency for the benefit of North Korean officials. This is a charge that has been vigorously brought by the U.S. Government concerning U.N. funding via its offices in Pyongyang, which are run by UNDP. Those accusations prompted Ban Ki-moon last month to promise a full external audit of U.N. operations world-wide, starting in North Korea.
But the Lund affair may involve still further twists and turns. According to lists leaked from within UNDP, the ten North Korean officials who went to Sweden were all listed for purposes of the trip as functionaries of North Koreas energy industry. Yet the names that have been leaked point to other intriguing possibilities.
For example, the group included someone named Jon Yong Ryong, described in the leaked UNDP list as Expert, Environment and Energy. That is the same name, as it happens, of a North Korean official posted a few years ago to the North Korean mission to the U.N. in New York. That official spoke up at a 2003 meeting of the U.N. Disarmament Commission to lambaste the U.S. and assure the commission that in North Korea, nuclear activities will be confined at the present stage to the production of electricity a promise belied by North Koreas test last October of a nuclear bomb.
Another name on the leaked list, this one described as Senior Officer, Power Resources Development, is that of Ri Kwang Su. There was a broadcaster with that same name on North Korean radio, whose commentary as translated by the BBC monitoring service on March 28, 2005, included, Our army and people will keep enhancing the nuclear deterrent forces.
What exactly is going on, who these traveling North Koreans actually were, or what U Peace is really doing, is hard to determine. A spokesman for the UNDP would only say that UNDP often acts as a kind of central service provider for the U.N. system so it would be normal for a UNDP country office to assist the University for Peace on something like transferring funds for travel and arranging tickets.
But there is nothing normal about this setup, starting with the relationship between U Peace and the U.N. system.
In response to questions emailed by FOX News, a U Peace official confirmed that U Peace does not come under the purview or oversight of U.N. auditors. A confidential assessment of U Peace carried out in 2004 by the Canadian International Development Agency, which bankrolled what U Peace calls the DPRK Trust Fund, noted that an evaluation would normally benefit from periodic monitoring and evaluation reports produced by the institution itself or by external observers. Such reports do not exist.
This below-the-radar arrangement is rationalized by both U.N. and U Peace officials on the grounds that the U Peace does not depend on the U.N. for funding (although over the past five years U Peace has received at least $280,000 in grants from UNDP, along with in-kind support). But in rattling the cup for donations, and apparently in pursuing projects, U Peace appears to trade heavily on the fact that it wears the U.N. label. On its website, it advertises that although U Peace is not subject to U.N. regulations and does not receive regular U.N. funding, it has strong links with the U.N. Secretary-Generals office and many other parts of the U.N. system. (Nor do the strong links stop there. The rector of U Peace from 2005-2006 was Julia Marton-Lefevre; she is the sister-in-law of Richard Holbrooke, formerly U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. under President Bill Clinton. [And advisor to 2004 Kerry campaign--F])
The question is, what is the U.N. system? Most of those links appear to have involved Maurice Strong himself, who shortly before taking on U Peace had added to his multitude of other U.N. roles a new one as part of a new, privately funded financial center inside the U.N. Secretary Generals office.
In fact, records show that at the same time that he first took over U Peace, Strong was on both sides of the biggest single donation that rolled in to support his revamping of the institution.
Channeling Ted Turner's Money
Strongs role as a private U.N. financier dates back to 1997 and early 1998, while working on Annans reform plan for the entire Secretariat. In the midst of that effort, Strong helped structure a new office inside the Secretariat called the U.N Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP), dedicated to a novel enterprise: channeling Ted Turners $1 billion gift to the U.N. directly through the Secretariat, in annual allotments of $100 million, to select projects within the U.N. system. Turner later cut back on his own annual contributions, supplementing his money with donations from others, and thus stretching out the UN Foundations direct link to the Secretary-General for years to come.
Turners U.N. Foundation money began flowing in 1998. That same year, while listed in the U.N. phone book as affiliated with UNFIP, and working as a special adviser to Annan, Strong joined the U.N Foundations board of directors. In effect, Strong stood at a special new crossroads within the U.N., where a variety of private funders would be taking a major role in funding future U.N. plans.
In 2000, UN records show that the UN Foundation., with Strong still a board member, approved a $2 million grant that flowed through the U.N. via UNFIP to U Peace, where Strong had just taken charge. Strong then resigned from the U.N. Foundation board.
At the same time, Strong was getting private funding from other sources that would eventually prove even more questionable. Last summer, at the trial of Tongsun Park, Saddams illicit lobbyist, it emerged in court testimony that a few years after Strong accepted from Park the check for almost $1 million funded by Baghdad, the two men had set up yet another business arrangement. In the year 2000, according to evidence presented in court, Tongsun Park was paying the rent for a private office Strong used in Manhattan. This was in parallel with his official work as an Under-Secretary-General and special adviser to Annan at the U.N., and his new post as head of U Peace.
To whatever conflicts of interest this might have entailed, Strong added another one by hiring his own stepdaughter, Kristina Mayo, to work in his official U.N. office, without declaring the family relationship to the U.N.. Mayos name also came up at Parks trial, as the person who in 2000 handled the checks sent on behalf of Park to pay for Strongs private New York office. In June, 2000, for example, Mayo sent a fax providing details for the money to be deposited directly into Strongs account at the U.N. branch of the Chase Manhattan Bank. Why Strong, often described as a tycoon, would have been relying on Park to pay his private office rent at that time has not been explained.
But then, it seems Park and Strong had known each other, and had business dealings, for years. Strong himself told the press in 2005 that when he took on the role from 2003-2005 as Annans personal envoy to the Korean peninsula, Tongsun Park served as one of his advisers.
This was a relationship in which its unlikely that Strong could have been oblivious to Parks earlier history as one of the star players in the 1970s congressional bribery scandal known as Koreagate. In that saga, Park was indicted on federal charges including money laundering, racketeering and acting as an unregistered agent of South Koreas Central Intelligence Agency. He testified in exchange for immunity, and for a while dropped out of sight.
But by the early 1990s, Park was back on the East Coast power corridor social scene, and had befriended the U.N.s then-Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, paying calls on him at the U.N.s official residence on Sutton Place, and sending flowers to his wife. In the autumn of 1996, before Annan took the top U.N. job, Strong served as a special adviser to Boutros-Ghali. That same autumn, around October, 1996, Strong and Park did some business together, lobbying for the sale of Canadian nuclear reactors to the Korean peninsula. The man who recruited them jointly for this assignment was a Canadian, Reid Morden, then head of a Canadian Crown corporation, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, with which Park at the time had a consultancy.
What goes around at the U.N. apparently never ceases to come around: nearly a decade later, from 2004 to 2005, Reid Morden worked for Paul Volcker as the operating head of the U.N-authorized probe into Oil-for-Food in which both Park and Strong again turned up. The early relationship between Morden and the two men was revealed only in a terse footnote on page 100 in the second volume of Volckers four-volume final report, along with the notice that Morden had recused himself from the sections of the investigation involving his two former associates.
Beyond that, Maurice Strongs ties to movers and shakers in other parts of the U.N. system multiply in dizzying directions not least involving Kojo Annan, the U.N. Secretary Generals son, whose own possible conflict of interest in the Oil for food scandal was among the factors that first sparked the Volcker investigation. Kofi Annan called for the independent probe after press reports revealed that his son, Kojo Annan, had been working for a Switzerland-based firm, Cotecna Inspection, which in 1998 had won the U.N. contract to inspect goods shipped to Saddams Iraq under the U.N. program.
Maurice Strong ~ UN ping
Thank you piasa.