“We have screwed up really bad”, admits UNOPS Director

26 March 2022 – Mukesh Kapila

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

How tens of millions of dollars got stolen through fraud and corruption at the top echelons of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) has come under focus through previous articles in this series.

The sordid saga so far

The first piece on 4th March outlined the rotten business model at the core of UNOPS, and how rentier behaviour and profiteering from the use of aid funds allowed Executive Director Grete Faremo, and her Deputy Vitaly Vanshelboim to abuse their authority to accumulate large reserves, in violation of UNOPS rules prevailing at the time.

The second article on 9th March illustrated how the Nest Egg was exploited via a dubious partnership with a private company to make a video game and song. This broke all sound business principles. Further, spending US$5 million that way without tangible outcome was hardly a legitimate advancement of UNOPS’s development mission. 

But it was useful for the  Faremo/Vanshelboim duo to test the methodological foundations of the much bigger fraud  that quickly followed, via the creation of UNOPS’s extraordinary  initiative,  Sustainable Investments in Infrastructure and Innovation (S3i). This appears to have got into bed with other shady parties.  At least US$ 58 million got “lost” while  delivering nothing for the poor of several countries it was supposed to benefit.

Mr Vanshelboim has been fingered for the fraud and put on administrative leave but may escape accountability as he is due to leave UNOPS shortly.  Meanwhile, Ms Faremo has made good use of him as  scapegoat. As described in the third article of 22nd March, she has started an energetic cover-up that includes intimidating staff, and putting out copious lies and excuses. Like claiming, for example, that  she knew nothing of what was going on, although they shared an open-plan office in Copenhagen for some years.

No one thinks that Mr Vanshelboim could have pulled off this massive heist on his own.  So, we look here into the principal actors who enabled him.  They are the members of the Executive Director’s Senior Leadership Team, her personally-appointed “Syndicate”.

The Director-of-Directors

As the Director of Regional Portfolios with principal oversight of the day-to-day operations of UNOPS across all continents, what was Honoré Dainhi up to when some $60+ million was misappropriated under his nose?

Mr Dainhi complained about his disturbed “work life balance” at the  Global Leadership Meeting on 9th March. He grumbled that his weekend had been ruined by public disclosure of criminal misdemeanours in his organisation.  The suave Mr Dainhi was rendered sleepless but not speechless. He said that he felt “bad and sad”, and confessed: “Of course, we have screwed up something really bad… it is a reality”. He sounded annoyed that accurate information had escaped UNOPS, even as he acknowledged the fraud and corruption.

Mr Dainhi is right to be worried. He was on the ad hoc committee called ‘EAC+’, a specially enhanced Engagement Acceptance Committee, created personally by Grete Faremo to rubber stamp her rash gamble of tens of millions through most dubious private enterprises. 

Why did Mr Dainhi ignore the red flags thrown up by UNOPS’s internal diligence procedures and agreed to the transfer of large sums to a company that was not selected competitively? As the director-of-directors, he oversees all geographies where UNOPS operates. Why was he strangely blind to the goings-on at  UNOPS/S3i  and its special purpose vehicle – a private company that now looks defunct. S3i has been described by an insider as “nothing but a syndicate of a well-connected mafia based on patronage”.

Does Mr Dainhi know if they delivered any concrete outputs? He is strangely reticent to answer. One example, out of many will suffice. It comes from his home patch: Mr Dainhi was also Africa director. “In 2020, the Governor of Ekiti State, Nigeria announced that 50 000 houses were to be constructed under UNOPS/S3i. How many houses are completed so far? The Governor’s own achievement from this deal is the recruitment of his ‘friend’ at one of the UNOPS Country Offices in Africa on instructions from one of The Big Boys in UNOPS.”

Mr Dainhi has been at UNOPS since 2016 having previously spent 16 years in the private sector, mostly at Shell. It is not clear what his private sector values brought to UNOPS, other than to profit at all costs, honesty and probity be damned.  His previous form is revealed from his position as CEO of Talem Africa (Supreme Group).  The Group admitted to massive fraud in supplies provision to U.S. troops in Afghanistan and had to pay “US$389 Million in fines, damages, and penalties”. Mr Dainhi was referenced there as “Supreme commercial division president” may feel that the losses at UNOPS are chickenfeed. 

The Legal Counsel

A key – perhaps the most important – enabler of the wrongs at UNOPS appears to be James Provenzano, the most powerful man in UNOPS. He is feared by all, including Ms Faremo herself. It is unclear what terrifying hold he has on her. But it is enough to compel her to favour him with three distinct roles.

First, he is Director of UNOPS’s New York office, with supreme hiring-and firing rights over his staff, akin to ancient baronial rights over serfs. 

Second,  as Executive Chief Procurement Officer, Mr Provenzano ultimately rules on all contracts for products and services; major suppliers must keep him on-side to have any hope of winning business.  Of course, there can be many creative ways of sweetening a deal.

Third, as General Legal Counsel, Mr Provenzano is lawmaker, jury, judge, and executioner, rolled into one. In comparison, even the most abusive world regimes at least try to show of separation of powers.

It is said that all power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The Provenzano role is riddled with conflicts-of- interest, with numerous examples of his intimidatory influence.  He appears to be an ardent practitioner of the Roman Law principle of “Do ut des”  – or “I give so you may give” i.e. reciprocity in awarding favours, and conversely, revenging any perceived wrongs.

There is a spooky resemblance with the apparently untouchable  New York Mafia.  Mr Provenzano has considered himself untouchable over many years. He is on a permanent contract and a comfortable retirement beckons unless he is brought to account.

Meanwhile, Mr Provenzano has a new buddy, William Axelsson.  Directly appointed  (i.e. without competitive process) by Ms Faremo to head a new Executive Board and External Relations Office in New York, Mr Axelsson is a oleaginous Swede who was originally hired thanks to the close relationship between Ms Faremo and Mr Axelsson’s father.  Axelsson Jr. originally learnt the dark arts of manipulation and intimidation under the mentorship of Moin Karim, the Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.  

Protected by Mr Provenzano, Mr Axelsson enjoys ruling his roost with impunity, including  brazenly lying to the UN ID and pass office to illegally obtain staff passes for individual contractors. This is a severe breach of UN security. Mr Axelsson’s personal and professional conduct has led to several complaints by long-suffering staff. However, as per standard UNOPS protocol to cover-up wrong-doings, it is the complainants that are victimised.  

Unethical shenanigans

Mr Provenzano appears to operate best by  improperly influencing or coercing his associates and subordinates.  He has previous form with the mishandling of corrupt procurement at UNDP. Subsequently at UNOPS, he has admitted that his son is a potential beneficiary of his decisions. To favour your family in any way is a mortal sin against UN rules.

However, the Provenzano père et fils have been cleared by his hand-picked deputy Legal Counsel Hafida Lahiouel and defended personally by Ms Faremo.  Ms Lahiouel has been most industrious in rapidly clearing many legal S3i innovation files that had been pending for many months because of red flags raised by several Copenhagen-based lawyers . These were the same files Ms. Faremo claims could not be reviewed by James Provenzano who had apparently recused himself. But he was working behind the scenes through his recently-hired “marionette” (Ms Lahiouel) who appears to have been co-opted into the fraudulent masterplan. A reasonable question is if Ms Lahiouel benefitting from some of the US$ 60 million in exchange for her legal blessing of dubious transactions?

No doubt, the conspiracy was made easier through complementary white-washing via Kathryn Higgs, the Director of Ethics and Compliance (who has conveniently just resigned  to avoid facing the music).  It does help the masterminds when the Ethics Office reports directly to the Executive Director.  What Ms Higgs apparently got in return for her co-operation was help to rid her of a thorn in her flesh, Helen Davey (who was reassigned to work with James Provenzano on a P5 post without going through a competitive process and whose salary is now being charged to the government of Mexico).

Thus, a captured Ethics and Compliance function is worse than useless; it becomes the cancerous virus that erodes the organisational corpus. Scores of staff have complained that they are not protected if they come forward with their concerns. Instead, they are intimidated and fired from their positions. Their shocking stories deserve articles of their own.

Also neutered is Ms Faremo’s Internal Audit and Investigations Group (IAIG), the director of which is currently under recruitment. 

Several personnel have reported a strong link between Kelley Swift (Investigations Manager), James Provenzano and Hafida Lahiouel. It appears that while the audit and investigations function is based in Copenhagen, Kelley Swift was first transferred to New York and then promoted thanks to James Provenzano’s strong support. The exchange-of-favours culture has jeopardized the important oversight and checks and balances that are critical in a large organization handling billions of dollars on behalf of taxpayers.

The IAIG has a line to the Board but is practically structured to report to the Executive Director. The job profile of the head requires the ability to “balance the independence of the IAIG function while maintaining strong relationships with the Senior Leadership Team and Global Leadership Management Team”, as well as to be a “trusted adviser to the ED”.  The departing Ms Faremo is on the imminent panel to recruit the director. Under this farcical arrangement, how could the unlucky appointee be allowed to, and seen to be, conducting genuinely independent investigations on Syndicate members while being required to maintain “strong relations” with the same suspects?

That is not all. UNOPS also invited its own staff to invest in its dodgy enterprises, thereby co-opting them into its questionable endeavours. In an email sent to several UNOPS personnel, Jonas Svensson, the now-departed Head of Global Innovation and Technology at UNOPS (a Provenzano-endorsed appointment), operating under its Social Impact Investing Initiative (a Provenzano-approved initiative), invited staff to invest US$20,000 each in Custom Corals, the company whose CEO was no other than the son of Mr Provenzano. The propriety of the approach appears to have been cleared by  General Counsel  Provenzano himself and Ethics Director Kathryn Higgs. It is not known how many staff responded and invested their funds in Nick Provenzano’s company.

Other Syndicate members

Beyond Messrs Dainhi and Provenzano, the Senior Leadership Team includes Marianne de la Touche, the Chief Financial Officer & Director of Administration,  Nick O’Regan, the Director of Implementation Practices and Standards,  Peter Browne, Director of Communications, and Tushar Dighe, Chief Information officer and Director of Information Technology.

Ms Faremo must have decided that Ms de La Touche brought valuable experience from her previous profession promoting cognac and champagne, Christian Dior and Bulgari, at the 64.2 billion Euros luxury brands group LVMH. So, signing-off on some US$58 million at  UNOPS must have been a trifling matter for Ms de la Touche.  Presumably also trifling was her authorisation of the post-fraud write-off (although write-offs were previously virtually unknown at UNOPS). Perhaps she could justify why? 

Mr O’Regan is the ultimate UN insider with decades of experience in several missions  from where he acquired much wisdom to strengthen UNOPS practices and standards. He prides himself on his “evidence-based approach relying on data and fact-based planning”. Unfortunately, the reverse seems to be happening in UNOPS. Nevertheless, it would be enlightening to hear what data and facts he considered when he too gave his nod to Grete and Vitaly? How can UNOPS justify breaking sacrosanct human resources rule by promoting him to a senior director (D2) position without the mandatory university degree?

The information and communications duo of Mr Browne and Mr Dighe  have principal roles in controlling what news leaks out of UNOPS and how the happenings are ‘spun’ for internal and external audiences.  A glance at the UNOPS website reveals that it is nothing more than a front to puff up the organisation, and burnish  Ms Faremo’s image with her empty speeches and photo-ops. There is no useful or transparent information on its projects and activities, evaluations and lessons learnt, accounts and audits.  (The information is available elsewhere on deeper delving including through the “OneUNOPS” system available only to insiders). So, Messrs Browne and Dighe may wish to reveal what they have been ordered to hide?

Is UNOPS in air crash’ mode?

At the 9th March Global Leadership Meeting, Mr Dainhi likened UNOPS’s  travails to an air crash. As he said, an airline company that operated 3000 flights safely may have to shut all of them down when it has one fatal crash.  But is that fair? 

To answer him, it is not just fair but essential to ground all aircraft of the crashed model – as happened with Boeing’s 737 Max – to rectify faults, revise procedures and re-train pilots. Something comparable is needed at UNOPS.

It is also true that sometimes the company itself does not survive a fatal crash, as happened with Swissair after its Flight 111, known as the “UN shuttle”  between New York and Geneva, crashed on 2nd September 1998; (I still mourn two lost friends: the brilliant Jonathan Mann, the first director of WHO’s Global Programme on AIDS, and the saint-like Pierce Gerety, UNHCR director of operations for Central Africa).

The good news is that the totally re-engineered Boeing Max is back in the air, and Swiss has re-emerged as a stronger airline with radically altered management.   The equivalent of that is what UNOPS must do. 

Mr Dainhi is right in using  the ‘air crash’ metaphor for UNOPS. So is Mr Provenzano when he proclaimed at the 16th March Global Leadership meeting that the recent fraud and corruption will not crash UNOPS. 

Yes, UNOPS will survive because it is a valuable global asset that does many good things in many places with, by and large, thousands of people working honestly and hard.  But Grete Faremo and her coterie must understand that the organisation is bigger than individuals. Especially, senior individuals that badly let down rank and file colleagues through their venal conduct, let alone betraying the poorest on our planet.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said at the homage to the 9 UN staff killed in Flight 111:

“It would be boastful to state that our actions change the course of history, but it would be wrong — and just as destructive — not to recognize that our work does have importance and does make a difference.

As we have come under criticism in recent years from those who may not understand what we do, we have been singularly blessed in the gift of colleagues such as those we honour today — for they provide an exemplary sense of our mission.

“You have only to look at the lives of these nine — indeed, some of the world’s best — to understand what the United Nations is and does when it is at its best.

“Friends, there is never any one moment when we can declare victory in the fight for good, for peace, for life.”

Kofi Annan’s words could equally apply today at UNOPS’s ‘air crash moment’, The travesty is that Co-pilot Vitaly Vanshelboim deliberately downed the plane while Captain Grete Feremo was out, greeting the first class passengers. Meanwhile, Navigator James Provenzano was gleefully misrouting the aircraft as Second Officer Honoré Dainhi was busy colouring the charts with pretty crayon, and Engineer Nick O’Regan couldn’t be bothered to do routine safety checks.  Chief Purser Marianne de la Touche was occupied counting the spoons and flight attendants Peter Browne and Tushar Dighe were busy entertaining the passengers.

The best homage that the current UNSG, Antonio Guterres, can pay to the victims of the UNOPS crash is to hold the whole crew fully accountable.

Meanwhile, senior managers beyond the SLT, such as regional and functional directors who, with honourable exceptions, are tainted by cowardice or self-interest and closed their eyes,  would be wise to reach for their oxygen masks and flotation devices.  It will be a rough ride.

But the destination is clear. Grete Faremo, her Syndicate, and their self-serving hangers-on in several directorates can’t be allowed to ruin UNOPS. Especially in our present troubled times, there is a lot to do and we need UNOPS more than ever. That is why UNOPS deserves all our support to purge itself and  re-emerge cleaner and better, with regained world trust.

Published by Mukesh Kapila

See http://mukeshkapila.org

33 thoughts on ““We have screwed up really bad”, admits UNOPS Director

  1. As Shakespeare would say, evil that men do shall live after them. Mr Dainhi arrived at Copenhagen as the Regional Director for Africa wearing a fake pan-afrikanist smile. With no background in international development, 3 years later he was elevated (the criteria used is still a mystery) to become the Director of Regional portfolios, overseeing all Regional Directors while keeping his other ‘sacred’ title, The Regional Director of the mighty Africa Region.

    Although Mr Dainhi is known to be two-faced, he should not play ignorant of what happened to the S3i money. He was part of all the meetings where the decisions to invest over USD58M with SHS were taken.
    In case he has a short memory, he should be reminded of his own famous phrase,
    ” Forget about policy, I will discuss that with
    my fellow SLT members, we can override policy. “


  2. This insightful article helps me to understand how UNOPS operates. I am working for one UNOPS biggest donor. Now it make sense why there is so much disconnect between UNOPS hubs and their regional offices.

    UNOPS staff in the field are experienced humanitarian and development practitioners with full understanding of local contexts. But I have noticed that most of the challenges during project implementation are caused by unnecessary interference by regional offices.


    1. @Cornell

      You have no idea, it just scratched the surface. In one point you are right, there are hard working people in the field and most of the challenges are caused by unnecessary interference by regional offices. But this happens not by accident, this is a very well designed and executed system of “how can I skim as much as possible from the donor cake”; “how can I keep control over the country offices and squeeze more out of them”; “how can I cover my tracks and have the right scapegoats ready when needed”; and “how can I slime up and generate more fees for HQ to remain on the bright side of Majesty”.

      I am aware of a few cases where colleagues challenged regional offices about the legitimacy of charging fees to the donor. They were told to keep quiet or face consequences. Most of them kept quiet and survived initially, some spoke out and were eliminated in the blink of an eye.

      If you would know just the half what is going on, I doubt your donations would still be routed to UNOPS.

      Sempre Fi



      1. Most of us can relate to the famous phrase of doing more with less. We all know that UNOPS does not get contributions from UN member states. Hub Directors are under immense pressure to milk every cent they can get from donors to pay for the salaries of the regional tormenters.


      2. Most of us can relate to the famous phrase of doing more with less. We all know that UNOPS does not get contributions from UN member states. Hub Directors are under immense pressure to milk every cent they can get from donors to pay for the salaries of the regional tormenters.


  3. In her attempt to cover up institutional racism which is rife in UNOPS, Ms Faremo was smart enough to bring in some color in her Senior Leadership Team. People of colour celebrations about this achievement were short-lived.

    Ms Faremo blue-eyed boy whose measure of intelligence is how well one can express himself in French became big-headed. He avoided being seen talking to fellow Africans or Asians. When his compatriots started questioning his behaviors, he became aggressive or unavailable. Forgetting how he pleaded for support from them using the race card.


  4. Just established that the outgoing Executive Director called for an urgent meeting with her cronies and stooges to restrategise and respond to the articles and intimidate UNOPS personnel during the townhall meeting scheduled for next week.


  5. OK enough about Ms. Grete.

    What about the regional directors. They are also enabling and abetting this enterprise.
    Ms. dioyssia geka and Robert Godin are the cute of UNOPS New York Office who are so incompetent and pathological liars. they lie and intimate their staff. the NY office other senior managers are very competent but dionyssia and Robert and the worse – they constant lie and intimidate personnel to the extend they fired a black woman and UNOPS was sued by her lawyer and there more examples of intimidation few female personnel got sick because of dionyssia intimidation and her advisor Robert lying, this must stop! this is nepotism unfair and unjust and a slap at hard working people. Robert is forever indebted to the ECR director and so is dionyssia and her other cult member Niels genther. this cult must stop.
    don’t get me started about Middle East regions which is another cult and so are the Latin America Fabrizio’s empire and Sanjay Mathurs.
    the people from NY, Latin America and Asia region must speak up. it is not only the ED the RDs are also abetting this.


    1. @Robin Hood,
      greetings from “Little John” 🙂

      you are absolutely right, the handful of “Super Managers” in the SLT are just a handful of people. Yes, they can move and influence a lot on corporate level, but without the ironclads regional structures they are pretty helpless, because it is the regions that bring the much needed financial contributions in form of “fees”.
      Too be precise, it is the individual country offices that implement the projects and bring the much needed fees to UNOPS.
      Fees that sustain corporate HQ with all functions and of course all Regional Offices. Without the regional directors, HQ would be in serious troubles. As one mentioned here, they “milk every cent” from the donor to pay for the salaries of the regional tormenters.
      Whilst Grete and her SLT may be seen as the Royal Court, the Regional Directors are the Generals that ensure that the system is greased and staff/ICA work their butts off to deliver more for less.
      They all have their own kingdom with a license to rule with impunity as long as the $$ reaches HQ. Whether it is Europe with Moin and his empire of “hosted entities” and the forgotten ICA’s in the tax limbo, or Sanjay M. who is more concerned to drive the latest Jaguar model or Fabrizio in Latin America who is so far away from HQ that not many know what is really going on there, Middle East, you are right, not to get started on it, and Africa, we all know who was the Regional Director there before he advanced to the SLT.

      Speaking out is dangerous as we all know, and seems for a long time, this blog here is the first opportunity for the working class to have a platform where they can share and report.
      One should not expect too many speaking up in the open, we know the system does not take prisoners.

      Maybe it needs a Robin Hood

      Sempre Fi



  6. Is it worth extending the life of the organization, in which the Chief Legal Counsel, the Chief of Investigations and the Ethics Officer were tied up to cover each other in corrupt practices?


  7. If today UNOPS Townhall meeting which was addressed by Ms Faremo and two SLT members,is anything to go by, it is now very clear UNOPS personnel are on their own.

    Just like Mr Dainhi confession during the last GLM, Ms Faremo confessed that she was ill advised and the decision to dish out USD 5M to WATO was not in the best interest for UNOPS.

    Kudos to brave UNOPS colleagues for asking those relevant questions and for clearly informing Ms Faremo and her syndicate that you lost confidence in them.

    UNOPS SLT should step down now!


  8. Thank you for allowing for a safe space to voice concerns. If there was an independent body recording irregularities there would not be a need to seek outside. The facts and comments provided in this space resonate accurately with the atmosphere in my region. The turnover of staff is high enough to raise questions. A full organization-wide independent investigation should be on the cards. If those responsible cannot respond to the alleged irregularities, they should be made accountable. Planes & crew are in dire need of inspection.


    1. Totally agree! PCG Internal Grieveances allowed themselves to be used and currently are doing the opposite of what they were established for.
      When personnel raise issues, they go directly to inform the perpetrator and in most cases, they even support them to get rid of the victim. Is that what you are being paid for?


  9. @Hurt,
    it was indeed an interesting atmosphere at the Town-hall meeting, bit like in a twilight zone. But despite the “confessions”, there was not a single word of remorse, or taking responsibility. It was all more about self-pity
    and that shows the state of affairs in UNOPS.

    Sempre Fi



  10. A few questions to Ms Faremo.
    1. When you ask UNOPS personnel during the Townhall meeting to protect each other, what exactly does that mean?
    2. You admitted that your leadership messed up but you were not remorseful, do you agree with with Mr Nick’s views that this is not first scandal in UNOPS and it will pass?
    3. Why James and Honore were absent during the Townhall meeting yesterday?
    4. I understand you are against witchhunting of staff which was suggested by one of the SLT members, what are you going to do ensure that does not happen?
    5. During the Townhall meeting the Director of Communications confessed that UNOPS will hire a Public Relations firm that have experience in crisis communication to deal with this blog and comment. Who is going to pay for that? Donors and clients funds?


    1. @Tim K.

      I thought the same, it sent a chill down my spine and it has the typical smell of cover up. Instead of being honest and admit what happened, no, it’s the opposite, we need a Public Relation firm to deal with our own crisis and our own dirty laundry.
      Of course, as we don’t have core-funding and all money comes from donors, it is again the donors that will pay the bill. Money spend for a PR firm, money that will not find its way to the poorest of the poor, where our work should actually take place.

      And Nick’s statement about being not the first scandal in UNOPS and it will pass, shows so much about the actual philosophy in the senior ranks, “Who cares, why should we bother, it will pass and in a few years no one will remember”.

      Isn’t that really sad and shameful? And such people sit on the top, they should be our senior most leaders?

      UNOPS senior staff is so distanced from the reality, living in their own bubble of “I am in the UN, I am immune, I cannot be touched”

      If that would happen in the private sector, they would be kicked out immediately and some of them put into custody and then have to face justice.

      It is the same old story, instead of being grateful to the whistleblowers, it is all about to hunt them down and eliminate them.
      Simply said, it is disgusting. If they would have an ounce of honor and character, they would just say sorry, quit and leave.

      Sempre Fi



  11. The momentum is building up in CH and New York Offices. UNOPS staff will not stand idle and see the organization going down.


  12. If you are wondering why UNOPS is not attracting qualified and competent employees, the news has spread like fire.
    In some regions, the leaders are very toxic and spend most of the time bullying field offices. Instead of providing support and facilitating solutions, they make decisions based on rumors.


  13. UNOPS SLT claims they were misled by Vitaly and S3i activities has had no role in UNOPS project activities. What does that even suppose to mean?
    UNOPS get money from donors under the pretext of helping the poor, just to dish it out to the organization led by a well known fraudster. Who authorized the transfer of the money to SHS?
    It is an open secret that one of the recently appointed director to the SHS board from Nigeria is a good friend to one of the SLT member. Just like WATO contract, another case of conflict of interest?


  14. Ms Faremo your threats to take legal actions against UNOPS staff who are speaking out will not silence us. Try something else!

    You failed to answer basic questions during the Townhall meeting related to your conduct and alleged conflict of interest by one of your lieutenants.


  15. UNOPS SLT members should familiarize themselves with the concept of segregation of duties. Most of the mistakes they make are resulting from undermining different sections responsible to ensure check and balances.


  16. It is good that we are finally speaking out against the toxic working environment created by  UNOPS  SLT and some of the regional offices.  Bosses who feed into office gossip and play favorites create a hostile environment and end up focusing on all the wrong things.

    Now the Leadership is caught up in the drama because since 2019 they focused on trying to accumulate power at all cost. They lost perspective on the things that matter, like how the organization funds were invested.

    Serving and leading in the UN is a privilege and all leaders are expected to be guided by the UN values of integrity, professionalism as well as respect for diversity. By truly embracing and living these values, we can work together to achieve the organization goals to serve our member states.

    Leaders who are abusing their authority, staff who are used to advance personal agendas should remember that what goes around comes around.


    1. @Kimperly,

      you are absolutely right and I am with UNOPS for a long time (I will not mention how long or the henchmen will pick me out), still a bit time till retirement.

      I have been through 3 1/2 sort of reorganization/restructuring of UNOPS and actually it did not get better but the opposite.
      We have now not only HQ that is full with self-serving wannabe leaders, embracing the philosophy of kissing upwards and kicking downwards and using the organization and their positions to advance their own careers for their own benefits, No, we have now replicas around the globe with Regional Offices that mirror one on one HQ.

      There are little SLT’s too, making sure that no criticism comes up from the working class. Henchmen/women that go merciless after anyone who would dare to speak out and at the same time giving a doss about how they themselves ignore UN values to the core.

      A toxic working environment, the hunt for more funding, more fees, but not to support the work on the ground, no, it is just to grow their own Kingdoms for their own power and pride.

      Country Offices are left alone to fight for survival but still have to deliver, more and more every year with less and less resources.

      This pressure has that toxic environment slowly creeping into the country offices too, colleagues being disappointed and leaving or just shutting down.

      I agree, there are countless great colleagues working in the field, creating miracles and the only way how to safe the organization and the honest workforce would be another restructuring.

      A slimmer and slicker organization, no heavy headed HQ, remove the SLT, remove the Regional Offices, establish a system where whistleblowers can really report wrongdoing, fraud, corruption and the violation of UN norms and values without being persecuted. And most importantly, hold the Senior Leaders to account. Have a truly independent Investigation Body that reports to the Executive Board and not the Executive Director.

      Do away with this twilight system of P and ICA staff, that has killed the organization. The UN is not a private sector organization, keep your hands out from business you have no clue about.

      And you will see, the talented colleagues will stay and new will join, otherwise there is not much hope on the horizon for UNOPS.

      Sempre Fi



  17. This blog post and the comments resonate with my experience while working for UNOPS at one of the field offices.

    I am aware of instances when senior leaders ask hubs to misrepresent facts to the donors so they can get extra money. I also know of a colleague whose contract was terminated and she was used as a scapegoat for the incompetence of personnel favored by the regional director.
    Where is our integrity and the proffesionalism we preach everyday?

    In order to prevent power from corrupting your character, it is important to practice self-reflection. After finding yourself in a leadership position, regularly check for changes in your behaviour, particularly the negative ones. As a leader, what impact are you making in the life of your colleagues and the people we serve?

    I am glad am now with the UN agency where talent is nurtured and hardwork is appreciated.


  18. I can write a 2000 pages book about my eight-month stint at UNOPS.

    A very self serving organization. Much time is spent on useless and unnecessary meetings with the regional offices in order for them to remain relevant.

    It is not about your performance but your skin color or how close you can get to the ‘God fathers and mothers’.

    May God save UNOPS!


  19. What criteria was used to select/appoint the S3i Investment Advisors?
    You will be shocked to know who they are connected to.


  20. There is enough documented evidence about how SHS came to sign the MOU with UNOPS.
    Anyone with little understanding of corporate governance will understand that the aim was to defraud the organization. Because the people who approved the payments are the same who now approved the provisions.


  21. Don’t forget the ghost organizations operating under UNOPS, like Cities Alliance. Where curruption, favoritisme and discrimination are part of the business.


  22. Don’t forget the ghost organizations operating under UNOPS, like Cities Alliance. Where curruption, favoritisme and discrimination are part of the business.


  23. Message to current and former UNOPS personnel

    If you raised a complaint with Internal Grieveances, Ethics or Ombudsman but you feel your case was not properly dealt with, your feel that your contract was wrongly terminated or you were retaliated after reporting a misconduct, please write to : saynoretalia51@gmail.com.

    Please spread the message


  24. Colleagues, the Swiss national TV focused on corruption, mismanagement, fraud at UNOPS Sanitation and Hygiene Fund in Geneva in this 29′ film https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WQUIxlbuCs which was also broadcast for the TV news at 8 PM. It focuses on the fate of UNOPS whistleblowers and UN whistleblowers in general. The UNOPS officials at stake, Dominic O’Neill, Sue Coates, Jim Provenzano are in the film. Just give it a look


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