Ten reasons why the World Bank and other donors must stop funding fraud-tainted UNOPS

1 May 2022 – Mukesh Kapila

This is the transcript of my letter to the World Bank triggered by a letter to them from the scandal-tainted Executive Director of UNOPS in which she struggled to explain that all was well in her deeply troubled agency which is rapidly sinking while she selfishly clings to office.

Copenhagen, 1 May 2022

Mr Ed Mountfield, Vice President, Operations Policy and Country Services Vice Presidency, The World Bank, Washington DC

Dear Mr Mountfield

All funding to UNOPS is currently unsafe: all donors should beware

I write in reaction to the 23rd April letter to you from Ms Grete Faremo, Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Project Services in which she asserts that funding UNOPS is safe and secure.  

However, Ms  Faremo provides no evidence to back up her assurances. Her cavalier approach to transparency around the single biggest case of UN agency suspected fraud and corruption of recent decades that she has personally presided over, should cause all prudent donors to be wary of her unsubstantiated  assurances that all is well at UNOPS. On the contrary, UNOPS is deeply sick and troubled. Therefore, all donors are urged to suspend all funding to UNOPS until there is substantive change in the agency.

This letter is copied to your colleagues at the World Bank concerned with anti-corruption, standards, financial management, and procurement and country services, as well as to your other Vice Presidencies. It is also shared with members of the World Bank Group’s relevant Board of Directors which has several Member States in common with the Executive Board of UNOPS. A consistent approach to standards, transparency, and integrity across our global multilateral system is vital for public confidence.

I have formerly had the privilege of very close association with the World Bank when I was a donor, representing the UK Government; and subsequently as an adviser for a period of time to one of your programmes. In that context of my considerable previous experience  with many international institutions and spanning several decades,  may I take the liberty of counselling that all your regional and country directorates and managers should be made aware that continuing with or entering into new business with UNOPS is risky at the present time. All your existing investments in UNOPS should also be forensically audited to ensure their integrity.  You should not rely on UNOPS’s own self-certification of expenditures and outcomes for projects funded by the World Bank.

Copies of this letter are also dispatched to all  major donors of UNOPS as well as to the President of its Executive Board. Further copies go the UN Secretary-General and Deputy Security-General as well as  to senior UN secretariat officials concerned with investigations and oversight, and ethics and compliance.  it is also released for general public information, alongside my other writings that can be consulted here.  More on this sad topic is being planned as yet more information is emerging. Several media outlets, beyond an early piece in Devex,  are now conducting their own inquiries.

What happened

The simple facts and circumstances are that, under Ms Faremo’s misdirection, her own deputy Mr Vitaly Vanshelboim has been suspended for potential wrong-doing which resulted in around US$63 million of UNOPS funds going astray via its Sustainable Investments in Infrastructure and Innovation Initiative (S3i) that the Executive Director had herself approved.  An embarrassed Government of Finland that hosts the S3i office has now suspended its contributions to S3i, and UNOPS’s host country, Denmark, is also deeply concerned. Contact with other donors suggest that several are freezing their general UNOPS support.

Meanwhile, a substantive proportion of the UNOPS/S3i losses are unlikely to be recouped. Ms Faremo has also sought to interfere with and influence the UN investigation by limiting it to Mr Vanshelboim, and seeking to pin all blame on him. However, it is not credible that Mr Vanshelboim could have misdirected millions of dollars on his own. The  fraud is highly likely to have been facilitated by the calculated connivance of others. Principally, these are Ms Faremo’s own appointed Senior Leadership Team (SLT),  and  other key personnel in crucial compliance and control functions.

Without independent investigation into all the circumstances and all implicated UNOPS personnel including the Executive Director herself, any investigation around Mr Vanshelboim alone is of partial value and a deliberate obfuscation of the full truth.

Ms Faremo is not truthful

Ms Faremo is disingenuous in claiming in her letter to you that she has proactively sought guidance from UN oversight bodies.  These bodies have raised, over a long period,  some fundamental concerns but Ms Faremo and her SLT finessed them away while designing the highly risky and ethically dubious S3i venture.

Similarly, Ms Faremo is economical with the truth when referring to approval from the UNOPS Executive Board.  In confidential discussions with some members of the Board, it is clear that Ms Faremo briefed the Board in a highly selective manner, and withheld critical analyses on risks, mitigations and other pertinent aspects of S3i strategy and operations.  Ms Faremo cannot, therefore, avoid responsibility for misleading her Board who were, thereby, unable to make informed decisions.

That S3i funds came from a “dedicated reserve” does not mitigate what happened, as implied by Ms Faremo in her letter to you. These funds were accrued by profiteering from  excessive charges levied on externally financed projects. Ultimately, the funds that were misused are not the privately-owned or privately-generated capital of S3i or of its parent UNOPS. They were provided by donors, including the World Bank. UNOPS leadership has mismanaged and gambled-away public funds provided, in good faith, for the global good.

Ms Faremo’s casual relationship with the truth is also illustrated by her claim that the organisation itself identified and reported disturbing issues to its Board of Auditors in 2020.  Actually, this was somewhat late. The alarm around pertinent underlying issues was first rung by staff in 2017 and then again in 2018 by UNOPS’s own internal diligence function. When this was rebuffed by UNOPS’s leadership, approach was made by concerned staff to the UN’s Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in early 2019 but no action was taken by Mr Ben Swanson (OIOS Director).

Meanwhile, UNOPS continued to disburse funds to S3i, despite the serious problems that had been identified some time previously.  In fact, internal UNOPS communications suggest that as late as a month ago, UNOPS/S3i was still developing new projects and preparing new disbursements to one of its discredited contractors, SHS, who have not delivered on previous contracts and who are, presumably, part of the UN OIOS investigation.

This shows extraordinary contempt on the part of Ms Faremo as she seems to be violating explicit donor prohibition on further disbursements without justified Board approval, as requested, for example,  by the United States in its 1st February statement at the UNOPS Executive Board.

UNOPS remains a risky recipient of donor funds

The factors that led to the catastrophic S3i debacle remain in play and place other UNOPS projects and operations at risk. That is why continued funding of UNOPS – without first tackling its underlying deficiencies – is  very risky.  UNOPS’s specific vulnerabilities – going well beyond S3i – are summarised here. 

First:

Ms Faremo and her senior leadership remain in position, along with their  leadership and management culture. These spawned the misjudgments around S3i and are likely to lead to similar risks being taken elsewhere. For example, Ms Faremo and SLT ignored or bypassed the concerns raised by internal diligence controls. Only the removal of the Executive Director and SLT will lead to a credible re-examination of UNOPS’s business model, restoration of integrity in its internal control system, and of donor and public confidence in the agency.

Second:

The UNOPS business model relies on extracting unjustifiably large margins from its donor-funded projects and by rent-seeking through ‘selling’ the UN logo under its ‘hosted partnerships’ business line which operates from its Geneva hub under the direction of its unprincipled Europe Region Director, Mr Moin Karim. It is such profiteering that allowed UNOPS to accumulate the huge reserves used for the ill-fated S3i.  Accompanying this is top-down extreme management pressure on all its units – regional and country offices – worldwide, to acquire more business.

The Copenhagen headquarters set arbitrary and unrealistic targets that drive regional directorates and their subsidiary units to cut diligence corners and treat compliance and control processes with flexibility and creativity. This has been applauded as “innovation”, although in this ‘anything- goes-to-get-more-business’  culture, sharp, unethical and corrupting practices are inevitable and tend to be ignored.  Indeed, they also risk undermining the integrity of the countries where UNOPS operates, by encouraging the development of a corrupt nexus of local sub-contractors and government patronages.

The avaricious behaviour of UNOPS drives it to venture into areas where it has no competence. One illustration – out of several examples – suffices. It concerns a US$6 billion contract to procure pharmaceuticals in Mexico from which UNOPS gained at least US$109 million by getting itself entangled into a shady enterprise where graft and corruption ruled. While UNOPS lined its own pockets, Mexican children with cancer were deprived of life-saving medication, and pharmacy shelves emptied of other essential drugs and vaccines. The Mexican government – a relatively-prosperous OECD nation – also lost valuable expertise in doing its own procurement. It is not known if anyone in UNOPS – let alone its senior leadership which has ultimate responsibility – was held accountable for its involvement in what appear to be corporate criminal practices.

The culture that Ms Faremo and her venal SLT cabal have created mean that UNOPS is no longer a development agency operating to ethical UN principles. Instead, it is a profit-maximising, self-promoting business cartel where many types of dubious ventures can find fertile soil. What happened at S3i is just an illustration of the wider vulnerability that is a warning to all donors that all funding to UNOPS is risky – until there is a radical re-engineering of its core business model and culture.

Third:

It is well-documented that the centralised – and secretive – SLT was personally appointed by Ms Faremo by-passing, in some cases, strict UN personnel hiring standards. The SLT’s competence, capacity, and integrity to run a multi-billion international agency is seriously doubted. The SLT replaced a  more skilled, experienced, and inclusive Corporate Operations Group (COG)  that used to provide valuable peer review and ensured checks-and-balances. Obviously, the authoritarian-minded Ms Faremo found COG’s questioning irksome and abolished an important internal quality assurance and accountability mechanism.

One consequence is that there are now few checks and balances at the top. Another is that there is insufficient segregation of powers among senior directors at headquarters. For example, the Chief Finance Officer (Ms Marianne de la Touche)  rules over finance, treasury, information security, human resources and crucially, risk management, among other functions.  The Chief Legal Counsel (Mr James Provenzano) is also Chief Procurement Officer and not only makes the ‘internal law’ of  the agency by interpreting UN rules and regulations according to his own discretion, but is then the sole judge and jury over how it is applied, besides being the ultimate arbiter of hundreds of millions of dollars of procurements of goods and services, many of which are open to corrupt deal-making.  These are completely inappropriate ways to manage a modern public sector organisation where the management structure should guard against abuse of power and conflicts of interest. The UNOPS structure does the opposite.

Fourth:

UNOPS is gravely under-governed through a shared, part-time UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board that does not have the independent skills and capacities to properly scrutinise a very large and complex agency’s policies and practices. This is completely different, for example, from governance at the World Bank.

The implication is that a CEO like Grete Faremo, who is well-practiced at withholding essential information can easily run rings around the Board. Governance reform is long overdue and should be a donor condition.

Fifth:

The internal audit and investigations function at UNOPS reports personally to the Executive Director (as does ethics and compliance), rather than independently to the Board. It means that these functions are easily pressured by senior management when inconvenient issues and wrong-doings emerge.

Current and past staff aver that this causes reluctance to raise suspicions of wrong doings in UNOPS operations. They say that when reports of misdeeds by the audit and investigations group have been prepared, the leadership does not always take them seriously and, in several cases, it has actually looked away. Thus, many hundreds of thousands of dollars are said to have gone missing from various donor-funded projects worldwide – and left un-investigated or hushed up as “write-offs”. 

Key information suggests that the internal audit department was specifically prohibited by the leadership to look into S3i.  Evading controls is very likely to happen again with other pet projects favoured by Ms Faremo.  That is why donors should not entrust their funds to UNOPS under current circumstances.

Sixth:

The Audit Advisory Committee (AAC) is not independent and does not report to the Board, as is normal good practice in many agencies. Instead, it reports to the Executive Director who selects and appoints its members. They tend to be her friends and may have held previous positions where they benefitted from UNOPS. The conflict-of -interest is self-evident.

This is not a new issue. As long ago as 2018, the UN’s Joint Inspection Unit stated that its review of UNOPS showed  that  “the AAC’s terms of reference do  not  fully correspond to the requirements of leading practices and good governance.  As a result, the AAC differs somewhat from similar oversight committees in the United Nations system, in particular with regard to its mandate, independence, the frequency of self-assessments and the procedures for the selection and appointment of its members”.

UNOPS has still not brought its audit and advisory practices up to the standards of comparable organisations. This function cannot , therefore, be seen as fully credible and trustworthy, and donors should not rely on it.

Seventh:

In theory, UNOPS has elaborate checks in its project management systems. But its senior management itself leads in evading them. For example, the Engagement Acceptance Committee (EAC) is supposed to satisfy itself that proper risk management has been undertaken, mitigations included,  and all due diligence completed, before endorsing a new commitment. In practice, such is the rush to  make new business, that the EAC often rubber stamps acceptances, after commitments have already been entered into.

As is already well known, the biggest of all UNOPS commitments – S3i – never even went to the established EAC for appraisal. Ms Faremo and Mr Vanshelboim were in too much hurry and also realised that it would not pass standard EAC scrutiny. Hence, the EAC was bypassed by Executive Diktat.

Ms Faremo is not truthful in her letter to you when she says “UNOPS regular project activities are overseen by internal controls, policies, and procedures”. These systems are often bypassed when it is convenient for her and her SLT to do so.

Eighth:

UNOPS has over 1500 projects spanning some 120 countries  and involving 100,000  large and small  contractors as well as a similar number of monthly transactions. This is a massive undertaking that should, by now, have matured into a trusted treasury management system. In reality, some of its own staff say that the UNOPS payment mechanism is as leaky as a sieve and, therefore, vulnerable to scams as well as, in the words of an informant, “money laundering”. It certainly appears to be the case that monitoring methods that are common in the payments industry, such as validating payees, monitoring patterns of payments to detect anomalies, and instituting controls to prevent money laundering are not in consistent use at UNOPS. 

It is almost certain that across the massive numbers of payments being processed through the flawed  UNOPS machinery, funds are likely to go astray.  Donors are rash to trust a system that is not robustly designed and properly secured to do what it is supposed to do.

Ninth:

As an UN agency, UNOPS enjoys the usual privileges and immunities, that are intended to facilitate its regular work according to the laws of the countries where it operates, and not to circumvent or undermine them.  Internal risk management experts say that  this is a risk to the integrity of its transactions.  This crystallises in a number of ways.

For example, external or internal parties who suspect wrong-doing don’t report it because they say that nothing happens because staff protected by UN privileges tend not to be prosecuted as that would be a laborious process requiring the lifting of immunities and would, of course, embarrass UNOPS. This sense of impunity makes corrupt or careless UNOPS personnel more reckless  because the worst that will happen to them, if they get found out, is that they will be separated. UNOPS does not usually pursue offenders once they have been induced to leave the organisation. This means that they go scot-free, usually taking their ill-gotten gains with them.

Furthermore, UNOPS has been abusing its immunities and privileges. For example, the entities at the heart of the S3i scandal were authorized by UNOPS to bypass national customs inspections and import duties. According to informants, that also exposed the organisation to the risk of money laundering as we know that no houses have been built so far. Thus, what was being imported by UNOPS/S3i contractors and for whose benefit, if no activities were taking place? This is in addition to robbing legitimate revenues that should accrue to host countries that UNOPS is supposed to serve.

Tenth:

Last but not least, numerous UNOPS personnel have testified that a culture of intimidation and bullying prevails at UNOPS. This appears to emanate directly from Ms Faremo and her SLT, and is directed against staff who question actual or potential wrong-doing. Instead of appreciating honest staff who do their duty, they are often picked-upon, harassed and dismissed, as many have found to their cost. 

Thus, the working atmosphere in many of its workplaces  is toxic, with staff dis-respected and desperately unhappy. There is also no effective whistleblower protection at UNOPS.

At a time of increased global consciousness on issues such as ‘Black Lives Matter’, gender equality, zero-tolerance of sexual abuse, action against bullying, and even modern forms of slavery, UNOPS workplace practices continue to cause considerable distress in a variety of places.  Despite leadership rhetoric to the contrary,  the senior and mid-level management chain has, in general, put the lid on alleged abuses, refused to take them seriously, not conducted investigations with fairness and consistency, and victimised the victims even further.

Should the World Bank and other donors be bankrolling such as enterprise whose conduct would be considered completely unacceptable – and illegal, even criminal – in their own organisations and countries? 

In short,

Ms Faremo is wrong in her assertions, and her statements lack veracity and back-up evidence. She continues to cause huge damage to UNOPS and its erstwhile good and necessary work. Her conduct is a  betrayal of UNOPS donors and other stakeholders and clients.

The ten issues summarised above are just some of the major reasons why all funding to UNOPS is currently unsafe. The World Bank and all other multilateral and bilateral donors should suspend their disbursements under their existing pledges and commitments. They should also not make any new funding commitments to UNOPS until there is complete change at the top i.e. Ms Faremo, Ms De La Touche, Mr O’Reagan, Mr Daihni, Mr Provenzano, Ms Lahiouel and Ms Swift are removed. A strengthening of UNOPS governance and a revamp of the business model that has generated such toxicity is also an essential pre-requisite for resumption of support to, and through, UNOPS. 

The urgency of this matter at a time of great global need where an honest, effective, and trusted  UNOPS is much needed, requires no elaboration. With best regards,

Professor Mukesh Kapila, CBE

Published by Mukesh Kapila

See http://www.mukeshkapila.org

47 thoughts on “Ten reasons why the World Bank and other donors must stop funding fraud-tainted UNOPS

  1. The writing has been on the wall but everybody decided to look away. The time to reform UNOPS is now!

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  2. The fundamental problem is UNOPS abuses it’s own people. Internal grievance process is a joke and there is no confidentiality. IAIG has a boss, aka Grete, to report to in order to keep their paycheck, so you think they would be fair? They are just little sad muppets committing their whole lives to the muppet master. You think the so-called “Speak-Up” platform will really help those who were sexually harassed? The guy who referred to the woman challenging his authority by saying “I’m gonna fuck her” is very much still Grete’s lapdog and enjoying his fancy title in the New York office. When the basic human rights do not exist within UNOPS, you think they would care about squandering donor money? Modern-day slavery is happening right here in the midtown office in the United States of America, and you think they would respect and care about easy, free money flowing into their bank account? In fact, the White House should be informed of this organization so no USAID or any Senate budget discussions will ever consider this disgusting organization. The U.S. as a Board member should lead into the investigation into UNOPS and make clear no human rights violation and international financial corruption at this magnitude can happen on the American soil. Secretary-General should be very embarrassed to ever sing UNOPS praises. And Grete is not investigated? What world would’ve allowed that?

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  3. Dear Mukesh,
    Thanks for some highlights about what is happening at UNOPS but that is just a tip of the iceberg. The organization is rotten to the core!
    There are honest colleagues at IAIG but whatever their findings are, SLT will always find to have them swept under the carpet.

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  4. It is sad to see UNOPS dirty laundry washed in public. It looks Iike the Internal Grieveances mechanism is not functional.

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  5. @Maria,
    good so. We are funded by public money, tax payers money. Nothing should be in the dark, it should be all open and transparent.
    Internal Grievances mechanism? Forgive me but just assuming we got something like that is a pure joke.
    @Ire has made the point. The organization we once we’re does not exist anymore. Solid guys with handshake quality like Jaap, Bruce and a few others have been replaced by a bunch of crooks.

    But the gates are open now and all shall come to the surface, and it will.

    Sempre Fi

    J

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  6. It is a difficult time to speak up in UNOPS now.But it is also the most important time to speak up!

    In a mismanagement organization, today is our colleagues, tomorrow is us. It is time to reflect.

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  7. With these practices at UNOPS, there is no doubt that multilateralism is under threat. These are clear cases of thievery and money laundering.

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  8. How can Jim and Hafida look at anyone in their eyes after the tyrannical treatment they gave UNOPS employees and all those whose careers were unfairly destroyed by them. They abuse authority themselves and allow anyone close to them to abuse authority. Legal group under them is so corrupted and everyone should be stripped of their licenses to practice law anywhere.

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    1. Hafida joined yesterday. Why are we afraid to mention the person who destroyed many people careers at UNOPS?

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  9. @al
    It is fascinating the double standards of UNOPS.

    The world and the international development family stands together to address the horrific war that is happening in the Ukraine, instigated and started by the Russian Federation.
    We all are shocked and everyone is trying to find ways how to support the Ukraine and how to expose the Russian evil face and hold them to account.

    And what do we as UNOPS do, driven by the sheer greed for a bit more corporate fee, a bit more regional fee, a bit more risk fee? UNOPS is initiating a new “development project in Lao PDR” renovation of a hospital.
    Now, that is a noble cause and no one would actually object to renovating a hospital in a country that really needs the support. The little hick-up in this case is unfortunately, that the entire project is financed by none other but the “Russian Federation”.
    So besides helping to renovate a hospital (which we all hope will not collapse based on UNOPS massive track-record on infrastructure), UNOPS is also providing the Russian Federation with an incredible media platform to step into the limelight.
    And UNOPS personnel actually paid by Russian money.

    What comes next? Are we going to build some barracks for the “Wagner Group?”

    Sempre Fi

    J

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  10. Why doesn’t the staff association take the lead if there are no regional directors who are willing to take it? The SLT must be out under pressure, unops personnel are nothing close to naive and a common stand by all personnel should happen to send a message of no tolerance to all SLT members. How can anyone from the SLT look anyone in the eye in the corridors?
    And PCG is another story, working against personnel under the current manager, who has lost the past vision of the function and brought the entire practice into one that only supports what the SLT want to do. The current manager is part of the corruption. You scrub my back I will scrub yours.
    Unops personnel miss the past leadership, the team that led the organization into a clean track history, under Jan, with members who only worked for the good of the organization and it’s true purpose. It was a team of clean managers who understood the business in its true sense, and who mostly came from countries in need. But of course they were all clean to work under such a corrupt plan and were let go one by one in different ways so that the new SLT have all the space to ‘innovate’.
    Unops is dear to those who were let go, but if it was dear to those in the SLT today, they would have left. But they are stuck to their seats because they don’t qualify to go to any other UN organization and have no future elsewhere. Media coverage is increasing the pressure and there is more coming. Much more.
    The people of unops and the staff association should act on behalf of its people and their futures, and their hard work in its country offices and put a halt to this.

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    1. Over 95% of UNOPS personnel are on IICA or LICA contracts and they are not part of any staff association. May be it is time to form one.

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      1. Besides, the association only takes care of HQ. Most of the ICA in the field are left alone. I remember ee reaached out to them when Rainer and his team of racist indians started abusing of locals in Kenya, and they didnt even reply!!

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    2. @John,

      that’s a good one John, the Regional Directors are as much a part of the problem as it is the SLT.
      The Regional Directors and the Regional Offices are the enablers of the HQ SLT. They need to be removed all together with the SLT and a new system needs to be put in place.

      I am afraid we will have to wait until the new ED comes in and hope he/she will have listened carefully to the voices from the working class.

      Sempre Fi

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      1. Totally agree with both. But do you want to know something scary? It is known that Fabrizio Feliciani, no other than Jim’s pal and the most corrupt RD, is applying to be UNOPS ED!!!

        Unbelieveble!! He has had more than 40+ real acussasions for harrasment at work, which Tina and Paul hide under a rug. He even had his own wife as regional HR despite all conflict of interest and complaints!! That region has the worst country directors, all his italian mates, bunch of incompetent men, and a couple of women who despite being good, dont have the character to go against him and stop his corrupt endevours, so they are just part of the same dirty cycle.

        Is he is indeed being considered, UNOPS should just close. No matter how much dirty money be sings in Mexico, Cuba, or any other third worl country in LCR.
        Let’s pray that wont happen.

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  11. Internal Grieveances is of no use and always biased towards management. The incoming ED should be advised to disband it as soon as s/he on post.

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  12. Utterly shocking revelations here!
    Will pass on this information to relevant people and authorities. This cannot continue.

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  13. Alejo manages internal grievances in such a mafia way. There is no such thing as grievances. As far as UNOPS management is concerned, there is only management interests. Put it in the simplest way, there is no human rights here.

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    1. I temember he use to be good, but probably power and Victoria’s lack of honest leadership, dragged him into the mud. Now he is just another arrogant european, pretending to care.

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    2. PCG is considered to be a guardian personnel rights and they were supposed to advocate for equality and fair treatment and application of justice. But they reduced themselves to be puppets and accomplices in mismanagement. They are the real culprits behind the retaliation and abuse of authority. Theirp Speak Up campaign is a trap.

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    3. Yes, Alejo was a fair guy . However, recently he was heard complaining about interference and how his hands are tied. In most cases he is forced to choose between SLT way or highway for him. Just like Sabine of IPAS HR, they are in very difficult positions.

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      1. Im not aire how Sabine got a P5. IPAS is a joke. The worst are IPAS HR and Admin. HR is just a group of low level generalists prettending to know and care, lead by an egocentric power-driven Annelisse (the worst!). And Admin, well, a bunch of nordic secretaries unable to deliver a single outcome. These 2 teams are only interested in talk of all the great things they “do” (sarcasm) and gossip around the building.

        I know Sabine knows this but she should do something with such underperformers and bad professionals. And Raad, is just a waste of money, imagine having a D1 based In CPH, for what? Joke

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  14. The staff association is called personnel association as it covers both ICAs and staff in unops.

    @pqa Alejo is only a product of Tina and Victoria, who is a product of Grete and her SLT.
    PCG was such a stellar, visible and approachable unit in the past, it’s a pity it has become a blockaded unit, working is a box to please the SLT. There is no leadership to stand up. There are no skills too in Victoria to manage it, absolutely no management or leadership skills at any level, so she resorts to playing along as her safe path to success. She plays it well and has sold Tina to be Grete’s puppet. The PCG it once was which worked for the entire organization and its people is gone with a team that has become misled, demotivated and disoriented.

    Bruce McK is hiding although he is probably the nastiest of all, a hidden player who has no clue about the field or about development, and is able to convince Grete that he is credible. She has even made him in charge of S3i now. Someone who plays everyone against each other, who hangs out with young boys and interns, and earns a fortune for his counterproductive role.

    Where is Honore hiding since all this has started? Literally hiding.

    Nick can’t go anywhere without any degree at all because all other UN organizations have higher standards than that which Grete and PCG has brought the standard to in breaking all the rules and losing $100,000 to Boyden in hiring him.

    Communication is a joke and Pete was hired only to take care of Grete’s image. This is all he does. I will never forget how many times the regions told him how he has no idea about anything, but he either never understood this message or he chose to keep his focus on Grete instead.

    It seems the more clueless you are and the more you mess up, the faster you get promoted as long as you click the right buttons with Grete. Personal image, protection and favours. This is the SLT.
    I urge any oversight body to just look at how these people were all hired. Not at the paperwork but at the background of things.
    I really wish the personnel association would act with its leadership and show the entire UN that if the SG is not willing to act, or Norway who is ashamed, the people of unops are. The heart and soul of the organization.

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    1. Honore is not hiding. He knows exactly what he has done! He facilitated the SHS deal in Ghana. It is alleged that his share was paid through a proxy, his former colleague at a petroleum company. More to come!

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  15. Justice should never be about the color of your skin or where you come from. UN values should not be about whether you are Norwegian or from a so called developing country .

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  16. @Robert @ MM

    Fully agree with both of you, though we need to see the fine nuances that surround this spiderweb of incompetence, nepotism, narcissism and corruption.

    It does not make much difference whether it is called staff or personnel association. They stick their head up for any of us and they will be axed like any other poor soul.

    The real issue is the dual system of FTA and ICA/LICA. Read all your contracts and the UN staff rules and the ICA contract modalities and rules. Employing an ICA is not even a hiring process it is a procurement process. ICA/LICA are bound to abide by all UN Rules and regulations but compared with FTA Staff, they have practical few to no rights at all.
    If a staff member considers his/her rights violated or being unfair treaded they can go to the UN Tribunal and there are judges and their decisions are binding.
    An ICA/LICA can call the Ombudsman to hear the sad story that “We cannot too much for you, we have no power.”

    UNOPS is kept alive by ICA/LICA staff. Without them, our ship would have been on the bottom of the Abbys for many years. And still, they are treated like modern slaves.
    And the reason is optimizing profit.
    The story of saving money for the donors or having such high fees, that is all rubbish. WHO is charging a healthy 13% management fee to its donors and there is hardly a complain. So does UNODC or a number of other UN Agencies.
    It is a lot about post employment/retirement benefits. That is what costs the real money and UNOPS is not interested to get engaged in that part of the UN business.
    It is pure consultancy business, though one could argue that McKINSEY has plenty of consultants but they pay them healthcare, and insurance and retirement benefits. UNOPS does not.

    As long as we have this divided system, the ICA colleagues can only hope and pray that Senior Management is fair and lives up to the UN values.

    But what happens when Senior Management gets into sync with the top Executive, we can see now. It is a disaster.

    And audit and oversight bodies have looked into that, A young auditor once challenged some of the hiring practices…..he was never heard about again, ended up in private sector.

    So don’t put too much hope into the “Personnel Association” it is a toothless tiger.

    And @MM, South America has always been a bit like a black box, not much leaked outside, Fabrizio kept a tight lid on it. But he is certainly not alone competing for the “best” Regional Director. Have a look to Asia where the colleagues live with a self perceived reincarnation of a 17th century Maharaja. He could apply too, for the ED position, not sure which one would be a bigger disaster.

    Yeah Bruce McK and the young boys, maybe one should call UNICEF.

    My chips are on the new ED,
    unless some real evidence comes to the surface that is so incriminating that neither OIOS
    nor the Executive Board or the SG can ignore it, leading to senior staff members stripped of their immunity and prosecuted in a court of law.

    Happy Mothers Day and

    Sempre Fi

    J

    Like

    1. Former Consultant , Office of the Ombudsman for UN Funds and Programmes says:

      Most of the comments resonate with my experience while working with UNOPS PCG and Ethics. It was a mission impossible to get an amicable solution to the complaints raised by UNOPS personnel to the Office of the Ombudsman. Working with Internal Grieveances personnel was very frustrating. Even when the evidence was in favor of the complainants, they always had a way to distort facts or manipulate processes. I hope this has changed.

      Like

  17. Bruce and young boys… others and young girls. Someone ought to call the FBI.

    SG needs to strip UNOPS leadership of their immunity. Otherwise, SG is an accomplice.

    And agree with everyone—that PCG and HR are disgusting teams. They all have families and children and karma will catch up on them after they have been destroying so many innocent people just to be muppets of Grete and SLT.

    Like

  18. What is very disheartening in this situation is that most SLT members are not remorseful.
    They have instructed PLG to prepare key messaging to the donors about how the organization is concerned about the S3i saga, but at the same time they are telling the regional advisors not to bother reading what is in the blogs.
    I might be new to UNOPS but not to the UN system . I feel there is some serious cleaning up to do in the organization.

    Like

    1. In the PLG, our leader is a strong woman who has not been afraid of raising our concerns, we are worried she will get tired of this and go. She should lead the Communications group too.

      I also want to thank the brave colleagues that created this account for us to safely share our voice. We all use the same as we know Mrs Dela Touche is using her it slaves to see who posts and from where.

      Like

      1. Good to know that PLG is having a strong leader. But be careful of the incompetent Team Leader from AFRO who was planted there by Honore to spy on everything happening.

        Like

      2. Are you referring to Emil who is running around like a headless chicken and recycling the same lies as Talking Points?

        Please be kind and tell her that UNOPS workers in the field are not going repeat her lies. We will forward those prepared messages to partners but we will follow-up with calls to inform them about the real truth including mismanagement by SLT and Regional Directors.

        Like

  19. It is relieving to learn that even though UNOPS leadership tried to hide information, they made a breakthrough. Nothing can be hidden under the sun.The next three weeks will be rough in Copenhagen and NY.
    Have your seat belts on.

    Like

  20. I did not want to dignify all the allegations against PCG with a response but I strongly believe you are blaming the wrong department.

    I worked in PCG but the big problem is inexperienced IPAS HR personnel. They can be easily manipulated by the regional offices.

    Like

    1. I agree with you. IPAS HR, they only want to feel powerful and recognized by the senior leaders, so they clean the dirty things for them. P3 scretaries based in CPH pretending to think, an overpaid influencer wannabe IICA-1 that pretends he is saving the world with his “innovative ideas”, and bunch of europeans under LICAs running like chickens without head. All so offensive for the real HR specialists in the field.

      Like

  21. More UNOPS funds wasted. They hired a group of counsellors to provide counseling to personnel mentioned in the blogs.
    These are same people who destroyed honest people livelihoods and careers.
    Slowly but surely Kharma is taking over.

    Like

  22. Thanks immensely to New York Times for coming through with details of fraudulent activities.
    Waiting for the next edition that includes double payments to retainers, sex for promotions, abuse of authority and retaliation.

    Like

    1. Waiting for the next articles too! I’m buying popcorn and reading this to my kids so they learn that nothing stays hidden between heaven and earth.

      Like

  23. Copenhagen is in panic mode. OIOS investigation is near completion. 2 SLT members are planning to resign soon.

    Grete should at least be commended to cancel the GLM meeting which was planned for June 2022 to brainwash staff from field offices in Sweden.

    Like

    1. I would think it is canceled now. Grete just informed all personel she is resigning immediately.

      Like

  24. We are done of this. We are working in the offices/fields as real soldiers believing in our organization, facing bureaucracy and blocks/thresholds of our operations while at high level the Mafia is manipulating millions with no proper review channels… Abuse and fraud is a fact in UNOPS… I see many of my colleagues friends disappointed and burning out… UNOPS needs a huge clean up, not only at HQ level, but country offices as well !!!!

    Like

  25. Mukesh, you last point summarized everything I was subjected to in UNOPS. It all started when I wrote a letter to management to address the issue of harassment of staff by one of the senior managers. This manager was used by Honore to torment everyone in our country office.
    Instead of looking at the issues I raised, Alejo and his colleague victimized me further. UNOPS must find another way of dealing with employees grievances

    Like

  26. Just few days before you published this article, the bank blessed UNOPS with an award applying the policy requirements exceptions for situations of urgent need of assistance or capacity constraints that are outlined the bank OP policy. Fishy!?

    The World Bank

    Project Information Document (PID)

    Appraisal Stage | Date Prepared/Updated: 22-Apr-2022 | Report No: 171264

    Apr 22, 2022 Page 1 of 15
    The World Bank
    Afghanistan Community Resilience and Livelihoods Project (P178760)

    BASIC INFORMATION

    OPS_TABLE_BASIC_DATA
    A. Basic Project Data

    Country Project ID Project Name Parent Project ID (if any)
    Afghanistan P178760 Afghanistan Community
    Resilience and Livelihoods
    Project
    Region Estimated Appraisal Date Estimated Board Date Practice Area (Lead)
    SOUTH ASIA 21-Mar-2022 29-Apr-2022 Social Sustainability and
    Inclusion
    Financing Instrument Borrower(s) Implementing Agency
    Investment Project Financing UNOPS UNOPS

    Proposed Development Objective(s)

    The main objective is to provide short-term livelihood opportunities and deliver urgent essential services in rural and
    urban areas.

    Components
    Emergency Livelihoods Support and Services in Rural Areas
    Emergency Livelihoods Support and Services in Urban Areas
    Social Grants for Women and the Most Vulnerable in Rural and Urban Areas
    Strengthening Community Institutions for Inclusive Service Delivery especially for Women
    Implementation Support

    OPS_TABLE_FCC
    The processing of this project is applying the policy requirements exceptions for situations of urgent need of
    assistance or capacity constraints that are outlined in OP 10.00, paragraph 12.
    Yes

    PROJECT FINANCING DATA (US$, Millions)

    SUMMARY -NewFin1

    Total Project Cost 265.00
    Total Financing 265.00
    of which IBRD/IDA 0.00
    Financing Gap 0.00

    DETAILS -NewFinEnh1

    Like

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