The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) queried one of its officials over an alleged 150-dollar fraud, according to an exclusive review of the organisation’s report on fraud and corruption.
The identity of the staff member was not disclosed but the report shows that the staff is being investigated for “possible undue receipt of Dependency allowance for two children not residing with the staff member after the staff member’s spouse separation from the staff member.”
Formal allegations of misconduct were issued to the staff member by the UN Secretariat’s Department of Management Strategy, Policy, and Compliance on 9 December 2022.
As per usual procedures, it said the staff member has been requested to provide any “written statement or explanations the staff member might wish to give in response to the allegations within one month of receiving the query.”
The amount involved is 150 dollars and PREMIUM TIMES understands the case is still ongoing.
In the annual report sent to the organisation’s governing body, UNEP’s Executive Director said that preventing and addressing fraud and corruption remains an integral part of UNEP’s day-to-day activities, and personnel behaviour, and an essential pillar of project implementation.
Between January and December 2022, UNEP recorded 13 cases of fraud and corruption. These cases range from entitlements to procurement and financial irregularities.
In its Action Plan, UNEP said it has adopted a zero-tolerance approach to misconduct – including fraud and corruption – involving its staff members, other United Nations personnel or third parties in relation to their work with UNEP.
“Zero tolerance means that UNEP will pursue all allegations of fraudulent acts involving any individual or entity covered by the regulations, rules, administrative issuances, policies, procedures and agreements described in the Framework and that appropriate administrative/disciplinary measures or contractual remedies will be applied if fraudulent acts are substantiated,” the organisation said.
“Furthermore, UNEP may, where deemed appropriate, recover loss suffered by the Organisation or refer matters involving credible allegations of criminal fraudulent acts to national authorities.”
For instance, in a case of fraud and corruption during the reporting period, charges were issued by the UN on a staff member accused of “possible misuse of funds” on multiple occasions in the context of a country-level project.
UNEP said without appropriate authority, the staff member caused funds of the organisation to be released; oversaw travel documentation which falsely indicated certain individuals travelled, resulting in improper disbursement of money of the organisation; required one or more individuals who were contracting with the organisation to repay a portion of their contractual payments; and caused funds of the organisation to be paid to a private individual for services which were not completed.
This misconduct resulted in a loss of approximately $210,000, UNEP said.
By the end of the investigation, the staff member had separated from the organisation but a decision was taken to withhold all separation entitlements pending the conclusion of the disciplinary process, it added.
“On 6 June 2022, the former staff member was issued with a charge letter from DMSPC/OHR. A fine has been imposed on the former staff member in accordance with Staff Rule 10.2(a)(v) and deducted from any remaining emoluments payable. The matter is closed.”
On the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day last December, UNEP said the UnderSecretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance (USG/DMSPC) launched the UN Secretariat’s “Fraud and Corruption Awareness Handbook” to raise awareness and highlight the responsibilities of staff members to act with honesty and integrity at all times.
“The Handbook clearly explains the process to handle potential fraudulent acts, which is described in the Framework and the UNEP AFAC Guidelines. 12. On that day, an article presenting the Handbook was posted on the UN’s intranet, iSeek.”
“UNEP maintains its zero-tolerance approach to misconduct – including fraud and corruption – and spares no effort to prevent, manage, and address all occurrences of fraud and corruption or presumptive fraud and corruption,” the report concluded.
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