Documents obtained by The Colombo Telegraph show how United Nations funds were paid to three Sri Lankan companies which were physically not contactable. US$ 1.57 million ( Approximately RS 167,000,000.00 – valuation 2008) was paid to supply companies which the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations could not contact. According to FAO Country Representative Patrick T. Evans’ own files, which were obtained by The Colombo Telegraph, he wrote, “ I came to learn that we have problems with some of our seeds supply companies – we can’t locate them – both addresses and phone numbers do not appear to be real.”
The FAO in Sri Lanka purchased project deliveries for the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka to a value exceeding US$ 1.5 million from three suppliers, namely, Dev Trades, A. F. Associates and YCO Farm. These suppliers could not be found in their given registered addresses and were not present at the given addresses. Two FAO staff members Ms. Niranjala Gunaraj, Finance Assistant, and Mr. Thevarajah Vaigunthan, National Project Officer, both attached to the FAO Emergency Unit, collected the payments on behalf these three companies.
According to UN files, whistleblowers within the organisation kept raising these irregularities from 2007 onwards, but no action was taken until the end of 2008. In 2008, an inquiry was initiated through FAO Headquarters Audit Department, where three officials, namely, Ms. Maria Carbone, Ms. Georgina Costello and Mr. Dennis Richards came to Sri Lanka to conduct the inquiry.
According to our investigations, the evidence was clear, but the Assistant FAO Representative (Administration), Dihan Hettige, encouraged FAO headquarters to bury this incident. We wrote to Patrick Evans and Dihan Hettige, asking what happened to the inquiry findings. They have failed to reply to our enquiries so far.
Another leaked 50 page document by the UN’s Chief Investigator, Inga Britt Ahlenius, dated 14 July 2010 and entitled “End of Assignment Report” trashes Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on accountability and transparency, largely deservedly. The UN’s Chief Investigator wrote, “Is the United Nations now on the right path, more transparent, more accountable? I address this question under four main headlines: Transparency, Accountability, Oversight and Management of Reforms. My conclusion and answer follows from my detailed review of certain core aspects of the Organisation. In spite of all your good intentions pronounced in these respects, my answer to this question is regrettably: NO…
And at the end of my report I summarize my observations: there is no transparency, there is lack of accountability. Rather than supporting the internal oversight which is the sign of strong leadership and good governance, you have strived to control it which is to undermine its position. I do not see any signs of reforms in the organization.”
So, this is the level of UN transparency and accountability. We are awaiting the UN’s response with regard to this particular US$ 1.6 fraud in Sri Lanka.We want UN to publish the investigation report. If there is no satisfactory response, we will publish our own findings and the FAO Country Representative’s files unilaterally.
We give below the one relevant document form UN corruption files;