في نهاية هذا التقرير تجد ترجمة له باللغة العربية
As the Egyptian people continue to protest and demand accountability and democratic rule by the thousands in the wake of the collapse of the corrupt Mubarak regime, we have received increased requests from friends throughout the Middle East to translate our reporting on our investigation into former Egyptian Minister of Investment Mahmoud Mohieldin into Arabic, so that far more people affected by or concerned about these issues can directly access our analyses. As explained in my previous posts, which are now all available in Arabic (here, here and here), despite having been named in allegations involving at least three suspicious privatization transactions that cost the Egyptian people thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars, Mohieldin continues to sit unquestioned in a senior position as a Managing Director at the World Bank -- even as multiple former officials associated with him in those transactions face similar charges and allegations of corruption, profiteering and abuse of public assets.
I will be reporting back soon on the latest phase of our investigative efforts into Moheldin's conduct as Egypt's Investment Minister, as well as the World Bank's failure to respond to our repeated requests for Bank President Robert Zoellick to review Mohieldin's current role as Managing Director in light of these serious allegations and finally agree to make his financial records public.
Last week I blogged on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's proposal that whistleblowers be denied the ability to challenge Ethics Office decisions before the UN internal justice system – the mechanism through which UN employees contest violations of their rights. Because the Ethics Office, which is charged with reviewing retaliation complaints and safeguarding the interests of whistleblowers, has ultimately substantiated retaliation in less than 1% of cases it has reviewed since August 2007, the Secretary-General's proposal would result in UN whistleblowers having little recourse when they are subjected to retaliation and would effectively render whistleblower protections at the United Nations meaningless.
GAP has learned that the judges of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal (UNDT), the court of first instance of the UN's two-tier justice system, are also opposed to the Secretary-General's proposal.
In October, UNDT President Judge Memooda Ebrahim-Carstens sent a letter to the General Assembly opposing Ban's proposal to amend UNDT's statutes to remove authority to review the decisions of the Ethics Office and the Office of Internal Oversight Services, which investigates misconduct. The judges observed that the proposal is "tantamount to allowing these entities to exercise power without accountability" and would "raise serious concerns regarding the respect for the rule of law within the Organization, especially taking into account the far-reaching consequences for staff members of decisions taken by such independent entities." [emphasis added]
At a film screening of The Whistleblower at UN headquarters in New York last month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon claimed to be committed to protecting whistleblowers. He said that the film, which details the true story of the United Nations' complicity in the sex-trafficking industry in Bosnia, "underscores how important it is to speak out against abuse or injustice ... Those who do so, in good faith, must not be punished ... We need to promote a culture in which people feel free and obliged to raise their voices in the face of wrongdoing and abuse."
The sad truth, however, is that the Secretary-General is not promoting that culture. In fact, he's doing the opposite.
In 2007, he sanctioned the fragmentation of the UN's whistleblower protection policy and allowed weaker standards to apply to funds and programmes. Now, he's taking this a step further, essentially proposing that whistleblowers be denied access to the UN internal justice system – the mechanism through which UN employees contest violations of their rights.
If passed, this horrendous proposal would effectively render whistleblower protections at the United Nations meaningless.
According to paragraph 276 of the Secretary-General's report to the General Assembly: (A/66/275) "a determination by the Ethics Office regarding retaliation should not be subject to challenge before the Dispute Tribunal." In paragraph 280, the Secretary-General recommends that the Tribunal's statutes be revised so that decisions made by the UN Ethics Office, which is charged with reviewing retaliation complaints and safeguarding the interests of whistleblowers, could no longer be appealed to the UN justice system.
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) whistleblower Hada Mendoza served as the executive secretary to the Bank's Representative in Paraguay from 1998 until 2006. She began to suspect that Alvaro Cubillos, the IDB Representative in charge of the office in 2003, was diverting project funds through a personal relationship with Cecelia Guanes Mersán, a Paraguayan national well-connected to the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Asunción. Although the IDB claims to implement a whistleblower protection policy, after Mendoza blew the whistle about the Cubillos affair, retaliation was swift and serious.
GAP has long been critical of the IDB's whistleblower protection record. Click here to read GAP's full report, Whistleblowing and Retaliation at the IDB: The Case of Hada Mendoza.
Bea Edwards is Executive Director and International Reform Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.
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في نهاية هذا التقرير تجد ترجمة له باللغة العربية
On September 9, for the first time in a month, thousands of Egyptians took to Tharir Square to protest for reform in the wake of the collapse of the corrupt Mubarak regime. As the Egyptian people continue to demand accountability, the number of charges facing former officials continues to rise, highlighting the role of former Egyptian Minister of Investment Mahmoud Mohieldin.
The latest allegations to surface once again name former Minister of Trade Rachid Mohamed Rachid and former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif -- officials implicated with Mohieldin in at least two dubious privatization transactions. Mohieldin however, who worked directly with Rachid, Nazif and other former officials currently under investigation, remains suspiciously absent from any such scrutiny and instead continues to serve as World Bank Managing Director.
Last week Corporate Counsel reported that infamous military security firm Xe (previously Blackwater) has hired Suzanne Folsom as its first chief regulatory/compliance officer and deputy general counsel.
The article quotes Folsom crony and former AIG General Counsel Anastasia "Stasia" Kelly, gushing about her friend's talents:
Stasia Kelly brought in Folsom [to AIG] as deputy GC and chief compliance honcho. "She is a terrific professional and great compliance officer," Kelly said last week. "If I had another job for her, I'd hire her in a second." Kelly, now a partner at DLA Piper, adds: "She is the perfect person to accomplish Xe's goal of a turnaround" from the dark days of Blackwater.
Perfect! Because XE has quite a turnaround to accomplish. Widely known as the State Department's deadliest private security contractor, investigations of the company found that overbilling was potentially widespread in Afghanistan, and that Blackwater's mercenaries used lethal force "recklessly" in Iraq. The habitual misconduct of Blackwater personnel in Iraq, in fact, led Congress to pass legislation making U.S. contractors in combat zones subject to prosecution in U.S. courts.
But Kelly has faith in Folsom because these two have worked on tough assignments before. They supervised compliance functions at AIG in the lead up to the 2008 implosion, and then bailed themselves out with severance packages so generous that Senator Charles Grassley requested the details of them.
As mentioned in a previous blog entry, GAP has been anxiously awaiting the release of "The Whistleblower," a movie that details the true story of the United Nations' complicity in the sex-trafficking industry in Bosnia. I recently had the opportunity to see this film and was blown away by the importance of whistleblower Kathryn Bolkovac's disclosures. As a critic for The New York Times wrote: "This earnest film may not be as dramatically coherent or as gripping as Serpico, All the President's Men, Erin Brockovich and Silkwood, ... But its revelations are, if anything, more devastating and far more immediate than the dirty deeds uncovered in those predecessors."
When Bolkovac stumbles upon a Bosnian club in which kidnapped girls are forced to work as sex slaves, she discovers photographs of customers –including UN peacekeepers – abusing the girls. As she attempts to gather enough evidence to free the women and prosecute the wrongdoers, personnel from the United Nations and contractor DynCorp International (changed to the pseudonym "Democra Security" in the movie) continually block her and turn a blind eye to the wrongdoing.
The United Nations Appeals Tribunal (UNAT) has just released a written decision in its most significant whistleblower case to date: Shkurtaj v. Secretary-General of the United Nations.
GAP was hopeful that this widely anticipated ruling would demonstrate the commitment of the UNAT judges to protect whistleblowers. Instead, it does the opposite.
Artjon Shkurtaj, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) whistleblower who made publicized disclosures regarding UNDP wrongdoing at its Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) office, hoped that the judge would find that the United Nations Dispute Tribunal’s (UNDT) conclusion that no retaliation occurred in his case was based on a flawed investigatory process and an error of law. He had also requested that UNAT increase the compensation awarded to him by UNDT for actions that were found by the UN Ethics Office Director to have violated his due process rights.
UNAT denied both requests and, to add insult to injury, reduced the amount of compensation ordered by both UNDT and the UN Ethics Office Director from fourteen months' net base salary to six.
On the bright side, the decision did vindicate Shkurtaj, as the judges upheld UNDT and Ethics Office findings that UNDP inappropriately damaged Shkurtaj’s professional reputation and career prospects by publicly releasing a report that contained disparaging comments about him, without notifying him or letting him comment. GAP believes that this attempt to damage Shkurtaj’s reputation, which the Tribunal characterized as a due process error, was a retaliatory action taken to penalize Shkurtaj for his whistleblowing.
في نهاية هذا التقرير تجد ترجمة له باللغة العربية
On August 18, Al-Ahram (Egypt’s largest daily newspaper) published an article describing the most recent allegations of corruption brought against Mahmoud Mohieldin – current World Bank Managing Director and former Egyptian Minister of Investment under Hosni Mubarak. The article details an investigation launched by the Administrative Prosecutor’s Department (in Cairo) based on a complaint filed with the General Prosecutor by employees of state-owned Al Nasr Housing & Development Company.
The investigation, while not yet concluded, focuses on Mohieldin and former Prime Minister of Egypt Ahmed Nazif. According to the allegations, both men pressured the public company to sell millions of square meters of prime real estate to a foreign investor at below-market rates. Emaar Properties, a UAE-based real estate company and currently the Persian Gulf region's largest land and real estate developer, is the alleged beneficiary. Now a familiar pattern, this transaction was pushed through despite what protestors claimed to be a blatant and deliberate legal violation of not allowing for a proper competitive bidding process. Moreover, innocent workers who then (and now) justifiably pointed out that problem were once again ignored and treated as collateral damage.
Today GAP released a report that evaluates recent reforms to the World Bank’s Peer Review Services (PRS), the lower level of the internal justice system used by Bank whistleblowers and staff to challenge violations of their rights. The report – which is available here – finds that the Bank has created a deficient justice system that fails to comply with both numerous international human rights standards, and with recommendations made by experts who previously reviewed the system.
Serious rights violations and structural shortcomings identified include:
- Many staff members are denied the right to appeal. For example, cases that challenge actions, inactions or decisions (including the imposition of disciplinary measures) taken in connection with misconduct investigations performed under the Bank’s whistleblower protection policy go directly to the highest level of the Bank’s justice system – the Administrative Tribunal – with no possibility of a subsequent appeal to another body.
- PRS fails to guarantee the rights to call or cross examine witnesses.
- The right to obtain documentary evidence can also be limited by a Peer Review Panel, contrary to recommendations made in several Bank studies.
- Oral hearings are not guaranteed before PRS or the Administrative Tribunal and are not required to be public, in violation of several international standards.