- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2001

NEW YORK Embattled U.N. drug czar Pino Arlacchi said this week he hoped to stay in office for another term, despite a series of investigations that have undermined his support within the United Nations and among member states.
A series of leaked resignation letters and at least four official evaluations or investigations have tarnished the reputation of the Vienna-based U.N. Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP).
"If it is possible, it would not be bad to continue the work I have started, and I think I will accomplish," Mr. Arlacchi, the ODCCP executive director, said in an interview on Wednesday.
"I have no other interests. I am at the top of my career. I am 50 years old and I can do what I think is to be done."
Mr. Arlacchi, visiting New York for an international AIDS conference, said he expressed this hope during a meeting with Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who appointed him to take over the drug and crime office four years ago.
In response to reporters' questions, Mr. Annan declined this week to say whether he had enough faith in Mr. Arlacchi to appoint him to another term.
"I am going through the required procedures and reviews before I make a judgment," he said, hours after winning an unusually hearty nomination from the Security Council for a second term.
Supporters say Mr. Arlacchi, an internationally recognized Mafia foe and left-leaning former Italian senator, has brought a new vitality to the stagnant agency.
A mediagenic and sometimes charismatic figure, Mr. Arlacchi has charmed wealthy nations into supporting his $75 million-a-year program and cajoled rulers as suspicious as the Taliban into cooperating with crop eradication efforts.
Two international conferences, one to fight organized crime and the other to crack down on the global drug problem, attracted international attention and generated new support for common goals.
But co-workers and ODCCP officials found him autocratic, mercurial and impulsive complaints that were confirmed by a recent series of investigations by a board of outside auditors and the Office of Internal Oversight Services.
The OIOS reports, in particular, painted a picture of a remote leader who stripped senior staffers of decision-making authority. They called for greater transparency, accountability and management skills.
Two of the four reports remain confidential, fueling speculation that they contain evidence of fraud or corruption.
Senior U.N. officials have refused to comment on the most serious charge that Mr. Arlacchi diverted donor money from legitimate programs to finance a round-the-world sailing trip by a Swedish tugboat captain who would hang an anti-drug banner from his boat.
Mr. Annan has received that report, but it is not clear when or if he will make it public.
Mr. Arlacchi said the project was brought to him in 1995 by a Swedish foundation, but was abandoned after questions arose about whether sailor Dennis Oren actually owned the boat. He said that less than $70,000 was spent, and that Mr. Oren had reimbursed some of it.
The executive director this week acknowledged his management mistakes, but said he and his staff were "totally exonerated" on the more serious charges.
In the interview at the ODCCP's New York office, Mr. Arlacchi said he had been the victim of lies, gossip and bad reporting.
"I think there is an effort to discredit me personally, and my reputation," he said. "They invented all sorts of foul things about me. …
"The investigators went though all this and found not one single case of irregular recruitment. They went through everything, my taxi receipts."
The governments that underwrite ODCCP programs have been watching the investigations closely as they decide how supportive to be.
The Netherlands has suspended its $6 million contribution until the end of the year. Other nations including the United States are increasingly earmarking their contributions to specific programs.

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