United Nations employees were involved.. Billions in corruption in the reconstruction file.. A British report reveals what is hidden: Corruption is “the lifeblood of politics in Iraq”

United Nations employees were involved.. Billions in corruption in the reconstruction file.. A British report reveals what is hidden: Corruption is “the lifeblood of politics in Iraq”


United Nations employees were involved.. Billions in corruption in the reconstruction file.. A British report reveals what is hidden - Corruption is the lifeblood of politics in IraqA British report revealed a loud scandal in which it was alleged that United Nations employees were involved in receiving bribes in exchange for passing a project to aid Iraq worth 1.5 billion pounds sterling (about 1.9 billion dollars).

An investigation conducted by The Guardian newspaper indicates that employees working for the United Nations in Iraq are demanding bribes in exchange for helping businessmen win contracts in post-war reconstruction projects in the country.

The alleged kickbacks are one of a number of allegations of corruption and mismanagement revealed by the Guardian at the Financing Facility for Stabilization, a UNDP scheme launched in 2015 and backed by $1.5bn (£1.2bn) to support it. Away from 30 donors, including the UK.

Since the US-led invasion in 2003, the international community has pumped billions of dollars in aid into Iraq. Twenty years later, the country still suffers from poor services and infrastructure, despite being the fourth largest oil producer in the world and achieving record oil revenues of $115 billion last year.

Corruption and kickbacks have been described as “the lifeblood of politics in Iraq,” which is why the UN implements projects directly, promising greater transparency than local institutions. In a statement to The Guardian, UNDP said it has “internal mechanisms that prevent and detect corruption and mismanagement, supported by strong compliance procedures and internal controls.”

But interviews with more than two dozen current and former UN staff, contractors, and Iraqi and Western officials indicate that the UN is fueling a culture of bribery that has permeated Iraqi society since 2003.

The Guardian says UNDP employees demanded bribes of up to 15% of the contract value, according to three employees and four contractors. In return, the employee helps the contractor navigate the complex UNDP bidding system to ensure it passes the audit process.

“No one can get a contract without paying. “There is nothing in this country you can get without paying, neither from the government nor from UNDP,” said one contractor, who told The Guardian that UNDP staff had approached them demanding bribes.

A UNDP staff member said the deals were done in person rather than on paper to avoid detection, with influential Iraqis sometimes acting as guarantors. “The third party also takes a share of the bribes,” they said, adding that contractors “will choose people with connections and power.”

Government officials entrusted by UNDP to oversee construction projects allegedly also receive a share. Contractors and UNDP staff who oversaw the projects said officials used that authority to “extort” bribes from companies in exchange for signing off on completed projects. Two contractors told The Guardian they were forced to make such payments.

The United Nations Development Program said in its statement that it takes allegations of corruption and lack of transparency seriously, and has zero tolerance for fraud and corruption.

“This policy applies equally to UNDP staff, as well as other staff, vendors, implementing partners and responsible parties with which UNDP is involved,” the UN agency said. Any allegation of bribery, corruption or fraud is carefully assessed and, where appropriate, investigated by the UNDP Independent Audit and Investigation Office.

Along with corruption, the money has been spent on redundancies and massive UN overhead, raising further questions about the share of the huge budget actually reaching war-torn communities.

The United Nations Development Program said that it collected indirect costs in accordance with its financial regulations and rules and the requirements of its Executive Board.

The interviewees, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, said the program had seen unwarranted expansion and extension that mostly preserved the UNDP footprint while relieving the Iraqi government of its own obligations to rebuild the country.

They described a corrupt incentive structure in which UN staff who want to “keep their comfortable salaries” collude with government officials who benefit financially to identify new projects, with progress reports embellishing the results to justify more funding.

The United Nations Development Program claims that it has succeeded in improving the lives of 8.9 million Iraqis – a fifth of the country’s population. But the Guardian’s visit to project sites indicates that some of these numbers may be exaggerated.

In one village in northern Iraq, a UNDP banner outside the local health center claimed credit for his rehabilitation. But the facility, which suffered only minor damage when Iraqi forces expelled ISIS militants in 2017, was restored by two other organizations.

By the time UNDP came, the clinic had been back in operation for two years. In what appears to be a deviation from the original goal of rebuilding damaged facilities, UNDP has built a new laboratory annex and X-ray facility. But the buildings remained empty in October, as local residents complained that the United Nations Development Program had failed for two years to deliver on its promises to equip new departments.

In contrast, a UNDP report in 2022 stated that the facility had been completed and, along with other clinics in the governorate, was serving thousands of Iraqis. But this number appears to be based on census data provided by the government and not on actual usage.

The United Nations Development Program said that it adhered to the technical and financial reporting requirements specified in the agreements with each donor.

Donors have agreed to extend the program for another two years and want to redirect some of the remaining funds toward social and institutional development. But interviewees described the training and workshops run by UNDP under these initiatives as “frivolous” and “lacking strategic coherence.”

The Guardian was told that the sessions were mostly attended by government officials and community members in order to enjoy a free trip and cash in allowances. “UNDP just wants to burn money and show donors that they are doing workshops,” one former employee said.

A former employee described the livelihoods initiative launched by the United Nations Development Program to teach displaced women to sew as “unrealistic” because Iraqis tend to buy cheap imported clothes from local markets. They were trying to create an economy that didn’t exist. “It was like going back to the Middle Ages,” they added.

UNDP said initiatives such as skills training were developed based on community needs and in full consultation with local authorities or community leaders.

Donors acknowledged the difficulty of tracking how their funding was spent and relied on UNDP to conduct monitoring and evaluation through an internal unit that the agency described as “completely independent,” even though it reports to UNDP management.

Five interviewees familiar with the UNDP reports said they did not reflect the reality on the ground.

“A lot of these documents are mostly for public relations purposes,” said one consultant who conducted an external review of another UNDP program. “When you actually go to these provinces and sit down with the beneficiaries of these funds and actually look at the projects, it is a far cry from what you see by reading these reports.”

According to the British newspaper’s report, it appears that the embassy’s employees, who are isolated behind concrete walls and are allowed only limited field visits due to strict security protocol, lack the necessary means to challenge the information. “Everyone only stays for two years, and when they find out, they leave,” a Western official said. “This is how these programs continue year after year.”

In response to the Guardian’s request for comment, Farhad Alaeddin, an advisor to the Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani, said that if allegations of corruption at UNDP and the involvement of government agencies were proven true, legal action would be taken. .

Aladdin added: “We will contact the highest authorities in the United Nations to discuss the details of these allegations, investigate them, and refer those involved in corruption to the competent authorities.” We will also review all the programs to find out the truth.