- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2000

NEW YORK The U.N. inspector general's office, after years of nabbing criminals and rooting out waste and fraud within the United Nations, has turned its attention to improving management and procedures, the chief inspector said yesterday.
Dileep Nair, a Singaporean banker who took over the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) more than six months ago, said his staff had identified $17 million in savings this year.
He also said his office had recovered some $5 million by renegotiating misunderstood contracts and seeking compensation in criminal cases.
OIOS was created six years ago to rein in bad management and battle fraud and corruption in an organization that had grown haphazardly over four continents in the past five decades.
The department's 120 investigators, auditors, legal experts and management consultants have saved the organization nearly $90 million, the United Nations says.
While releasing an annual report from his office, Mr. Nair told reporters that his staff was shifting its focus from investigations of specific cases where waste and fraud are suspected and instead focusing on audits that result in "less direct savings, but more long-term savings."
He recommended establishing mini-versions of OIOS within some of the more complex U.N. agencies.
He also proposed stationing analysts in long-term missions such as those in East Timor and Kosovo to identify problems before they happen.
In the past year, his office has performed 82 audits and 35 investigations and made 968 recommendations to various U.N. departments, agencies, funds and programs.
Mr. Nair yesterday brushed aside suggestions that his office had suffered during the six-month gap between the departure of former head Karl Paschke and his own arrival in April.
The Clinton administration must certify to Congress that OSIS is independent from the rest of the United Nations to pry loose $54 million toward this year's U.N. dues.
"A certification will be forthcoming," a State Department official said yesterday.
That money is not related to a separate law drafted by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms of North Carolina and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the committee's ranking Democrat, which would pay money the United Nations claims is overdue.
Congress also has demanded regular updates on the internal oversight office as a condition to authorize payments to the U.N. regular budget.
Washington has supported the work of OIOS, seeing it as a way to battle fraud, mismanagement and corruption from within.
One of OIOS' biggest discoveries came last year when it found that more than $700,000 had been deposited into the account of Susan Rouse Madakor, a single mother in New York.
Miss Madakor found the deposits, made in Italian lira, Japanese yen and British pounds, in her bank account and decided to keep the money.
The number of her account at Chase Bank is off by one digit from that of an account for a trust fund set up by the U.N. Environmental Program.
The annual report found "no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the U.N. staff members [but] deficiencies on the part of [the organization] and Chase were noted."
Miss Madakor has been found guilty of fraud and is to be sentenced in February.

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