Memo portrays UN chief wanting control, secrecy

The 50-page unusual memo describes Ban Ki-moon as secrecy-obsessed UN chief.

Updated: Jul 23, 2010, 10:49 AM IST

New York: A portrait of Ban Ki-moon as a secrecy-obsessed UN chief seeking to wrest control of internal investigations emerges from a blistering 50-page confidential memo by his former oversight chief.

The unusual memo by Inga-Britt Ahlenius, a copy of which was obtained by a news agency, describes Ban as more concerned with preventing news leaks than with releasing possible criminal evidence to prosecutors. It also details how she fought Ban`s efforts to set up a competing "new investigative capacity" within the United Nations.

The Swedish former auditor general also stated that the secretary-general improperly refused to allow many of her office`s audit reports to be made public, or to allow its confidential investigative reports with evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing to be referred to US prosecutors.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said yesterday that Ban regrets that Ahlenius` confidential memo was leaked, but he considers her "frank thinking and advice" an important tool for improving his management and he and his senior advisers are "carefully reviewing" it.

The UN`s ability to police itself for major fraud and corruption is of concern to the United States and other major donors to the world organisation, who worry whether the billions of dollars they contribute to improve the lives of the world`s poorest actually reach those most in need.

Ahlenius, who stepped down as undersecretary-general in charge of UN oversight last week, says in her "end of assignment report" to Ban that he tried to take control of investigations after her Office of Internal Oversight Services resisted his efforts to launch official probes into news leaks. The OIOS is meant to operate independently within the UN.