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UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United Nations has cut back sharply on investigations into corruption and fraud within its ranks, shelving cases involving the possible theft or misuse of millions of dollars, an Associated Press review has found.
At least five major cases in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa are among the inquiries halted as the U.N. scaled back on self-policing over the past year.
The world body was rocked earlier in the decade when more than 2,200 companies from some 40 countries colluded with Saddam Hussein's regime to bilk $1.8 billion from a U.N.-administered oil-for-food pr
"The investigations division, I am convinced, is doing a very good job, and is continuing the good work," U.N. management chief Angela Kane said in late October. She repeated the assertion last week.
But the U.N.'s track record over the past year suggests otherwise: - Nothing has come of a task force report completed in December 2008 that found $1 million a day flowing out of a safe in a U.N. project office in Kabul - part of $850 million intended for Afghanistan's rebuilding and elections between 2002 and 2006. A year later, U.N. managers say the case is still under review. - Task force staff ran out of time before they could complete two more investigations on Afghanistan. One involved evidence that a U.S. firm padded its charges by $1 million and the other that U.N. staff diverted millions of dollars from Afghan elections, roads, schools and hospitals, according to U.N. documents and officials. Task force investigators found evidence some of the money went to expand U.N. operations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East without authorization. And they found no documentation to confirm how the Kabul office used tens of millions of dollars meant to promote democratic elections in Afghanistan. - No action has been taken on a task force finding that about half of $350,000 in U.N. funds intended to launch a radio station for women in Baghdad was used to pay off personal loans, a mortgage, credit card bills and taxes, as well as for cash withdrawals from a bank in Jordan. The task force recommended disciplining a U.N. staff member and referring the case to national prosecutorial authorities. Neither has happened. - A task force investigation of collusion and bid-rigging involving a transport company in Africa found contracts steered to one company and two of its senior officers. The task force recommended the case be prosecuted; nothing has happened. U.N. managers say the case is under review.