House Foreign Affairs Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
For IMMEDIATE Release
Nine House Members Seek GAO Audit of UN Agency
Poe and foreign affairs committee members
push for review of World Meteorological Organization
WASHINGTON - Nine members of Congress including Congressman Ted Poe today requested that the Government Accountability Office open an inquiry into a UN agency that monitors global climate following reports of management irregularities and the dismissal of an auditor critical of agency management.
In April 2005, an internal audit report concluded that millions of dollars in funds were embezzled from the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization (WMO), beginning as early as 1999.
In late 2006, the former chief auditor responsible for the report, Maria Veiga, was reportedly dismissed by WMO. She has alleged that she was precluded from fully pursuing her investigation, that she was pressured to cover up facts regarding involvement by other WMO personnel in the irregularities, and that there is a possibility that fraudulent schemes persist.
The 2005 audit accuses Sudanese national and former WMO official Muhammad Hassan, with the help of other WMO personnel, of misappropriating more than $3 million from the WMO.
The United States is a member and the leading financial supporter of the WMO, a specialized agency of the United Nations that serves as an authority on the state of the Earths atmosphere and climate. Since 1997, the U.S has provided more than $115 million in assessed and voluntary contributions to the WMO, and the Bush Administration has requested more than $10 million for the U.S. contribution to the WMOs budget for the fiscal year 2008.
The GAO request was initiated by U.S. Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX), Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Dan Burton (R-IN), Elton Gallegly (R-CA), Edward R. Royce (R-CA), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Bob Inglis (R-SC). All are Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on which Ros-Lehtinen serves as the Ranking Republican.
The 2005 report concludes that embezzled funds were misused to exert improper political influence within the Organization, as part of a money-for-votes scheme that stretched back at least as far as 1999. Stolen funds were used to pay for travel, accommodation and pocket money of [Permanent Representatives] and Delegates of certain countries who would then vote and act according to Mr. Hassans and other WMO staff members instructions. In addition, stolen funds were misused to pay the minimum contributions of some countries to allow them to recover voting rights.
In the letter to GAO, the Members want an examination of: whether U.S. contributions to the WMO have been misappropriated or misused; the adequacy and veracity of the UN investigation and report; and the adequacy of current WMO oversight mechanisms.
Text of the Letter to David Walker, Comptroller-General of the United States:
The United States of America is a member state and the leading financial supporter of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations which serves as an authority on the state of the Ear