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U.N. Lost $30 Million To Waste, Fraud Inspector-General Says Recent Reforms Must Go Much Further

Mon., Nov. 3, 1997

The United Nations has identified $30 million that was lost through waste or fraud, part of a campaign against waste and corruption in the global organization.

An annual report released last week also identified millions of dollars in savings after measures were instituted to crack down on fraud and unnecessary spending.

But U.N. inspector-general Karl Paschke, a German career diplomat brought in three years ago at the insistence of the United States and other Western countries, said reforms must go much further.

Virtually all U.N. operations - from its headquarters in New York to smaller agencies around the world - suffer from poor accounting, favoritism in awarding contracts and disregard of U.N. regulations, said the report, released last Thursday.

U.N. offices outside New York, including its European headquarters in Geneva, operate as if they were under no obligation to follow regulations laid down by headquarters, the report said.

That has long been a complaint of American conservatives, including Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C. The Republican-controlled Congress has refused to pay the U.S. arrears - estimated between $900 million and $1.4 billion - without significant reforms.

The report showed that most individual acts of corruption do not involve huge sums of money, making them difficult to uncover, especially those in areas far from New York.

For example, an official of the U.N. agency that assists Palestinian refugees siphoned off thousands of dollars in bogus medical claims. In another instance, tens of thousands of dollars spent on the 1995 women’s conference in Beijing remain unaccounted for.

Cumulatively, however, the amounts are significant, especially for an organization that complains of a financial crisis caused by the United States’ failure to pay its dues.


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