UN agency under investigation by Danish police after Faremo’s departure – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries
This happens after almost 400 million Norwegian kroner, according to the UN itself, may be lost.
After several media reports in May this year, Norwegian Grete Faremo resigned as head of the UN body UNOPS.
– I don’t know the whole case, but it happened on my watch. I recognize my responsibility and have decided to resign, Faremo wrote in an e-mail to his employees.
Reported to the police in June
UNOPS builds infrastructure such as refugee camps and hospitals, most often on behalf of other organizations in the UN.
In 2021, Norway gave NOK 155 million to UNOPS, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
It is not publicly known who reported the UN organization to the Danish police on 14 June this year. But one month later, the Danish police forwarded reports to the National Unit for Special Crime (NSK), i.e. Danish Ecocrime.
NSK is conducting the investigation. They will not comment on whether it is individuals who have been reported or what is being investigated.
All UN employees have diplomatic immunity. It is the UN Secretary-General who must revoke this if employees are to be able to answer police questions or be charged with an offence.
The UN itself has also carried out an investigation of the scan.
Will cooperate with the police
After Grete Faremo resigned in May, Danish Jens Wandel temporarily took over as head of UNOPS.
In an internal e-mail sent to employees on July 15, Wandel refers to the UN investigation of former deputy chief Vitaly Vanshelboim.
– We have received an update from the UN Secretariat. This is followed by a news release in Denmark yesterday, which seems to confirm that there has been an approach to national authorities as a result of the UN investigation of the S3i chief, writes Wandel.
S3i is a project in UNOPS which is under scrutiny by the UN itself, after several reports of concern and large losses of money. It was Faremo’s deputy manager, Vitaly Vanshelboim, who led the S3i project.
In December 2021, Vanshelboim was authorized by current UNOPS chief Grete Faremo.
Vanshelboim writes to NRK that he cannot comment on the case. Faremo writes in an SMS to NRK that she has not been contacted by the Danish police.
– No, I haven’t heard anything and didn’t respond to questions, writes Faremo.
UNOPS communications people initially say they are not aware of any investigation. In an e-mail later, they write that they cannot comment on the investigation, but that they will cooperate with the Danish police.
– The UN has established the policy of cooperating with the authorities in order to organize a proper administration of justice, says the e-mail from UNOPS.
Possible loss of millions
Earlier this year, it became known that UNOPS had lent 58.8 million dollars – over half a billion Norwegian kroner – to the company owned by the British businessman David Kendrick. The lion’s share of the money was to go to building a house in a developing country.
Sources with in-depth knowledge of UN budgets tell NRK that they have never heard of such large transfers to a company.
So far, not a single house has been built, and the UN’s internal investigation report shows that 39 million dollars may be astray.
Through his lawyers in the Carter-Ruck firm, David Kendrick says that he still wants to build the houses the company committed to in agreements with UNOPS.
Faremo, a former Labor politician, led UNOPS from 2014 to May 2022. She stepped down the day after New York Times published a comprehensive article on financial default in the organization.
The former Ap-toppen has been Minister of Justice and Minister of Defense in Norway. Last in the Stoltenberg government in 2013.