Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Did U.N. Program Secretly Funnel Money to North Korea?

Did U.N. Program Secretly Funnel Money to North Korea?
By George Russell

Did the United Nations Development Program use an American charitable organization to secretly funnel nearly $2 million, and perhaps much more, to North Korea — over and above the millions in hard currency it is already known to have given the Kim Jong-il regime in violation of its own rules?

UNDP documents seen by FOX News raise those questions, and others about the relationship between UNDP and the humanitarian group Mercy Corps, also known as Mercy Corps International. The documents show millions of dollars allocated to Mercy Corps International for North Korea seem to have escaped normal UNDP oversight.

Both UNDP and Mercy Corps have rejected the idea of any direct dealings on North Korean territory, and spokespersons for both organizations told FOX News that their only joint project in the region operates solely in China, in a region adjacent to North Korea.

UNDP says it suspended all its operations in North Korea when the Kim regime refused to cooperate in an investigation of UNDP funding and staffing methods in the country, as well as the unexplained presence of thousands of dollars of counterfeit U.S. money that was stashed in a UNDP safe in Pyongyang.

Nonetheless, according to the internal documents seen by FOX News, close to $2 million in UNDP money was disbursed to Mercy for a project clearly labeled “MCI-DPRK” (the acronym for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as North Korea is formally known), and numbered in the UNDP book-keeping system as 12431.

The payments stretch from 2004 to January 2007 — or just weeks after accusations were first raised by U.S. diplomats concerning the hard-currency UNDP payments to the Kim regime. More than $200,000 was released to the Mercy Corps project at the end of January 2007.
Additional documents seen by FOX News seem to indicate that much more money — roughly $5.9 million — was budgeted by UNDP over the same 2004-2007 period under the MCI-DPRK rubric.

And intriguingly, most of the funds — roughly $4.6 million — are listed on the UNDP budget as coming from the U.S. Since 2002, the Bush Administration has expressly forbidden that any of the roughly $100 million it donated annually to UNDP be used on any project connected with the North Korean regime. (The U.S. government contribution is currently about $125 million.) UNDP has always declared that it honored those wishes.



Anonymous cassie said...

I'm not a bit surprised...

11:00 AM  

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