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Ban Welcomes Recommendations On DPR Korea

Ban welcomes recommendations of panel on UNDP work in DPR Korea

4 June 2008 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today he was pleased that many constructive proposals and recommendations were included in an independent review of the work of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

That external audit, made public on Monday, found no evidence to support allegations that UNDP resources were consistently misused or that agency officials knew of funds being channelled improperly to the Government in Pyongyang.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said he "looks forward to UNDP management following up" on the recommendations put forward by the 353-page report.

He also voiced his appreciation to former Hungarian prime minister Miklos Németh, who led the audit, "for the comprehensive, detailed and highly professional review."

Rounding out the three-member panel were Chander Mohan Vasudev, a former senior official in the Indian Ministry of Finance, and Mary Ann Wyrsch, a former UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees and acting commissioner of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The report found that UNDP officials were not aware that Pyongyang had made payments from accounts it used in connection with UNDP activities to such entities as the International Finance Trade Joint Co., a Macau-based company to which Pyongyang apparently transferred nearly $3 million.

"UNDP had no means by which to control the extent to which the DPRK commingled other funds from its own resources in its accounts for purposes of making payments beyond the scope of the development programme," the audit noted.

However, the panel, which interviewed over 70 people and reviewed a large number of documents, criticized the "clear lack of attentiveness" at UNDP that led to $3,500 in counterfeit United States dollars remaining in its safe in the DPRK from 1996 to 2007. "At a minimum, warning signs existed that required a more timely and effective response. [However] there is no evidence that anyone acted in bad faith or in a fraudulent or deceptive manner."

Instead, UNDP officials failed to take follow-up action, despite concerns raised by the UN and the United States, which might have resolved the issue.

The panel was set up last September after an earlier review by the UN's external Board of Auditors failed to end the controversy and new allegations subsequently emerged.

UNDP's Executive Board will discuss the report with the panellists at its meeting in Geneva later this month.

The review was set up last year to review allegations and issues raised specifically about UNDP's work in the DPRK, which was not covered by a probe conducted by the UN Board of Auditors.

ENDS

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