3 November 2003

UNODC Calls for an Independent Investigation Following Inter-Regional Advisor's Resignation

VIENNA, 3 November (UN Information Service) - Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was on official travel to New York when a staff member, Mr. Samuel González-Ruiz, an inter-regional adviser, submitted a letter of resignation, alluding to irregularities regarding the issuing of contracts, petty corruption and abuses of administrative discretion.  Because of the situation, Mr. González-Ruiz concluded he could not carry on with his duties beyond 31 December 2003.

The UNODC is taking these allegations very seriously.  The matters that led to Mr. González-Ruiz's resignation are being carefully examined by the Executive Director, assisted by UNODC's senior managers.  "The severity of the allegations brought to my attention", Mr. Costa stated, "deserves a most thorough examination.  They were made public without prior consultations with me, or without me having been alerted beforehand.  In order to guarantee an independent assessment, I have requested the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) to investigate the claims on a priority basis.  The results will be made public as soon as they are available and administrative or disciplinary actions will be taken as necessary."

OIOS, the UN independent Inspector-General's Office, has already started its investigation.

During the last year, UNODC went through major management reforms aimed at increasing transparency, governance and efficiency of its operations. "There is irony in the situation.  The UN Office on Drugs and Crime is proud of its reforms and of its work, including the recently agreed upon Convention against Corruption that we brokered.  We owe it to governments, staff and the public at large to demonstrate in deeds that we tackle corruption everywhere, starting from the Office itself.  If the allegations are corroborated with evidence of wrongdoing, we shall proceed with the necessary severity.  I am however convinced that, because of the reforms we have introduced, major evidence of misbehaviour is unlikely", Mr Costa added.

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