26 November 2003

Investigation Clears United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) of Allegations of Corruption and Mismanagement

VIENNA, 26 November (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) today announced the results of its investigation of allegations of corruption and mismanagement at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).  Presenting the findings, Mr. Dileep Nair, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, stated "the investigation did not substantiate the allegations of corruption in UNODC."

Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, UNODC's Executive Director, welcomed the OIOS Report.  "We strongly salute the findings of the independent investigation.  The OIOS Report clears the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) of all accusations of corruption. The enormous efforts we have made over the past two years to refocus, restructure and reorganize UNODC have paid off and our credibility is unblemished.  I am indeed proud of the UNODC staff whose integrity and dedication had been put in doubt".

The Report by OIOS is available on UNODC and UNIS Vienna websites.

The Executive Director of UNODC had requested a thorough investigation of the general as well as the specific allegations raised by Mr. Samuel González-Ruiz, an inter-regional adviser, in a recent letter of resignation made available to the international press.  Mr. González-Ruiz's allegations were supported by another employee whose contract expires at the end of the month.

Mr. González-Ruiz had accused UNODC of corruption and mismanagement, irregularities in the issuing of contracts, retaliatory actions against whistle-blowers and administrative as well as, in some cases, criminal violations.  OIOS, not having uncovered any evidence whatsoever in support of these charges, cleared UNODC of any wrongdoing.

With regard to specific allegations, the OIOS Report concludes that there was:

No abuse of travel privileges by a UNODC staff member;

No retaliation against complainants;

No evidence of a conflict of interest in the award of a 2002 contract to a UNODC staff member's next-of-kin. However, during the investigation, OIOS uncovered evidence of contracts involving conflicts of interest between 1995 and 2001 on the part of the same staff member.

Having carefully examined the OIOS' findings, which clear the UNODC of corruption, the Executive Director has decided that the two employees who raised these unfounded allegations cannot have a future in the Organization.

"The Office's integrity was wrongly put in doubt and the OIOS independent investigation has put the record straight.  Personal grudges are an understandable part of life: however, they should not be turned into slander using the megaphone of international media," Mr. Costa emphasized. "Yet, there should be no complacency.  The Office recently brokered successful international negotiations for the first United Nations Convention against Corruption: UNODC therefore needs to be, and be perceived to be well above any suspicion of wrongdoing, however insignificant. I am determined to enforce a zero-tolerance policy as regards any form of conflict of interest, mismanagement and corruption."

As important step towards safeguarding the highest standards of transparency and integrity at UNODC, Mr. Costa will seek the views of Member States regarding the establishment of an Integrity Panel to advise him on matters pertaining to integrity and ethical behaviour in keeping with UNODC's role as the custodian of the United Nations Convention against Corruption. The Ambassador of Colombia, General Rosso José Serrano Cadena, has been invited to assist Mr. Costa in this endeavour.

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