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UN Staff Member Fired Over Oil-food Reinstated

Annan Reinstates UN Staff Member Fired Over Oil-for-Food Misconduct

New York, Nov 15 2005 7:00PM

A United Nations review board has cleared Joseph Stephanides, a staffer who was fired on 1 June for 'serious misconduct' linked to the Oil-for-Food scandal, prompting Secretary-General Kofi Annan to reinstate him with full pay and benefits.

A spokesman for Secretary-General said the decision was taken "in light of all the circumstances in this case and the principle of proportionality" but maintained that Mr. Stephanides had violated procurement rules that required him to act with "absolute impartiality" towards all bidders and that he not disclose any information with respect to the probable acceptance or rejection of a bid offer to outsiders.

The original decision to summarily dismiss Mr. Stephanides was based on a February report of the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) commissioned by the Secretary-General to probe the Oil-for-Food Programme. It found that a UN Steering Committee "prejudiced and pre-empted the competitive process in a manner that rejected the lowest qualified bidder" with the "active participation" of Mr. Stephanides, then Deputy Director of the Security Council Affairs Division. He was immediately suspended and given time to respond to the administrative charges against him as part of due process.

According to the IIC report, Mr. Stephanides violated procurement rules in order to enable Lloyd's Register Inspection, Ltd. to secure a multimillion dollar UN contract under Oil-for-Food.

In a statement today, the UN spokesman repeated that Mr. Stephanides had violated these rules by contacting the British Mission and advising them that a competitor would be receiving the bid and advising the Mission how much lower the Lloyds' bid needed to be.

The Secretary-General "does not share the JDC's view that the decision to sanction his conduct was 'seriously flawed' in law or in fact," the spokesman asserted.

But upon reconsidering the matter, the Secretary-General decided to "rescind the decision to summarily dismiss him and to pay his salary and emoluments from the date of his summary dismissal to the date of his retirement."

Mr. Annan also wrote a letter of censure to Mr. Stephanides on the issue, according to the spokesman.


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