- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 12, 2008

NEW YORK | An internal U.N. investigation has sharply criticized the head of the organization’s “good governance” division, finding he has diverted funds donated by the Greek government to improperly pay contractors and mismanaged a $2.8 million trust fund meant to foster transparency and accountability.

The report by the Procurement Task Force of the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) suggests that Guido Bertucci, director of the U.N. Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM), personally reimburse the trust fund for misused funds and be reprimanded for favoritism and other violations in hiring consultants.

The Washington Times obtained a copy of the report, which was completed in April.

Mr. Bertucci, 60, is scheduled to retire from the United Nations in six weeks. U.N. officials familiar with the case say he is unlikely to receive any punishment stronger than a note in his personnel file.

“The Task Force recommends that appropriate disciplinary action be considered against Mr. Bertucci, [and two others] for the violations identified herein, including … gross negligence in managing the Trust Fund Agreement, and failing to meaningfully cooperate with the investigation,” said the authors of the 91-page report.

The investigation was ordered in December 2006 by then-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in response to investigations by The Washington Times and other news outlets.

The investigation was delayed for months, the authors write, because Mr. Bertucci refused to share his personal financial information with investigators.

The resulting report was never publicly released and is still considered “strictly confidential” by the United Nations.

It was given to The Times by a person who feared the critical findings would be “buried.”

Contacted by telephone over the weekend, Mr. Bertucci said, “I have been completely cleared.”

“All the accusations against me are proven false.”

When read some critical passages of the task force report, Mr. Bertucci replied that he could not comment.

“I have only seen preliminary versions, and that cleared me completely.”

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said the organization could not comment because the report is not yet finalized.

Technically, OIOS reports are not considered final until their recommendations are accepted or challenged by those involved.

The funds in question were donated by the Greek government to finance the Thessaloniki Centre for Public Service Professionalism. The center was set up in 1999 to guide newly independent former Soviet states in developing transparent government procedures to hold officials accountable to voters.

However, the center’s mission overlapped with a similar U.N. program already operating in Naples.

Because of the competition, the Thessaloniki program never really got off the ground, according to people who worked in the office. Concerns over the fate of the program’s money were raised as early as 2002, the OIOS report points out.

In 2006, the Greek government complained that Mr. Bertucci’s agency failed to submit financial reports and statements of expenditures, and that most of the Thessaloniki Centre’s objectives remained unfulfilled five years after its inception.

The Thessaloniki center was rarely fully staffed and, according to former chief technical adviser Panayiotis Liverakos, its work was simultaneously “neglected and obstructed” by Mr. Bertucci’s organization.

For example, Mr. Bertucci’s organization would hire international consultants without the knowledge of program officers in Thessaloniki, Mr. Liverakos told investigators.

Ultimately, the OIOS investigators found, the Greek-funded trust fund for the Thessaloniki Centre was used to pay at least $184,000 to consultants who did little significant work or were chosen without a proper review of their credentials or qualifications.

The report says the consultants themselves are not accused of wrongdoing, but recommends that Mr. Bertucci’s organization reimburse the Greek government for at least $34,000 in misspent fees.

Additionally, the 91-page report asks the U.N. Department of Management to decide “whether Mr. Bertucci should be held personally accountable and financially liable” for financial irregularities in his organization.

“Mr. Bertucci consistently failed to provide meaningful cooperation with the Task Force investigation and did not provide specific documents requested by the Task Force at various stages of the investigation,” wrote the authors of the report, which noted that the burden of proof shifts to the employee once there is a likelihood of wrongdoing.

Mr. Bertucci, an Italian national who has run the U.N. Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) since 1993, has been accused by former employees of intimidation and favoritism.

The Office of Internal Oversight Services, the U.N. watchdog that compiled the latest report, has undertaken at least three inquiries of his division in the last three years.

The latest investigation finds that Mr. Bertucci and John-Mary Kauzya, chief of the public administration branch of DPADM, and program officer Jose Manuel Sucre-Ciffoni had often subverted published guidelines on the hiring of consultants with money from the Thessoloniki center’s fund.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide