UN trust fund agency allowed procurement fraud in Afghanistan
By Meena Haseeb - Thu Feb 28, 11:50 am
The report seen by The Wall Street Journal, which hasn’t been made public, casts new light on possible mismanagement at a U.N. office that has channeled billions of dollars into the country since 2002.
The international community’s role in Afghanistan has also been under the question following the report amid delicate moment when U.S. and international troops are departing next year.
LOTFA, the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan which is administered by the UN Development Program is at the issue which covers payroll and benefits for the Afghan National Police.
Around $2.5 billion has reportedly been delivered by Lotfa which was established in 2002 to help bankroll and build the Afghan police force.
This comes as the international moitors last year raised concerns about suspected fraud at the fund, allegations first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Lotfa had previously been touted as a model for international assistance however the reports casued a major credibility problem for the UN in Afghanistan. The European Union at that put tens of millions of dollars in anticipated donations on hold
amid the investigation.
The United Nations Development Program sent a high-level team last year to review the management of the program which confirmed last December procurement fraud.
The report declared some Lotfa staff colluded with suppliers to inflate the cost of contracts over several years. More important, it pointed to wider problems with the management of the UNDP country office.
A number of the staffers were dismissed by UN after an internal investigation was launched despite UNDP initially denied the allegations.