20 March 2010

Shady Arms Deals Lead All The Way to the UN

Looks like the FBI Sting in Las Vegas a few months ago netted more than just some little fish. Apparently the trail of money and shady deals goes all the way up thru the UN hierarchy...

The deal looked simple enough: U.S. military equipment suppliers bribed an African defense minister's salesmen to secure part of a $15 million gig to outfit a presidential guard.

But the salesmen were actually FBI agents. And the operation resulted in what U.S. authorities in January called their biggest foreign bribery sting to date, netting 16 indictments and 22 arrests of small arms and military equipment makers.

At the center of the U.S. case is Richard Bistrong, a former Florida executive who first surfaced in a series of cases of bribes and bid-rigging for multimillion-dollar U.N. peacekeeping contracts. The trail to Bistrong is laid out in U.N documents, e-mails and legal filings reviewed by The Associated Press.

The story of Bistrong and the military equipment suppliers shows how vulnerable the United Nations is to corruption in how the billions of dollars a year that it oversees are spent. It also raises questions about how well that spending will be monitored in the future: The anti-corruption unit that first uncovered the bribery and bid-rigging was disbanded in 2008, after more than 300 investigations in three years.

"It is greatly disturbing that an organization plagued by corruption and mismanagement would disband its anti-corruption task force," said U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who has proposed requiring the U.N. to do more to fight corruption or risk losing U.S. financial support. "What will the (Obama) administration do to address U.S. taxpayer dollars being misappropriated, squandered, and stolen at the U.N.? We need to demand concrete reform now."

At least one guy who was kinda-sorta-not-really caught in it was close enough to the fire that even though he wasn't cooking anything, he still got burned: his company revoked his clearance, turned off his phone/email, and had his desk contents boxed and dropped off at his house before he was home on the plane from Las Vegas. Dont' screw around with the Feds. Just do it right and no one gets screwed.

By: Brant

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