Report Shines Unflattering Light on Former Top U.N. Investigator
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
UNITED NATIONS – An independent report made public yesterday claims that a former top internal investigator at the United Nations, Dileep Nair, has been uncooperative, members of his office obfuscated, and Mr. Nair “appeared” to have bypassed rules regarding hiring members of his office.
The findings by a Washington-based lawyer, Jerome Ackerman, against the former head of the Office of Internal Oversight Services did not deter Secretary-General Annan from declaring the matter closed and sending Mr. Nair a personal letter of apology.
Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown also berated the staff union, which first demanded to investigate allegations against the OIOS chief. And Mr. Nair was allowed to reply to the findings, while others who were mentioned in the report were afforded no such opportunity.
One chapter of Mr. Ackerman’s report addressed a complaint made to Mr. Nair by one of his office workers about verbal and physical assault she suffered from a female superior. Mr. Ackerman indicated the woman turned out to be an unreliable witness. Turtle Bay officials, he wrote in the report, informed him that the complainant “might be suffering from mental and emotional ailments.”
Those ailments were intensified after a woman with the same name was the subject of an Internet report. The woman in the Internet story appeared in front of a Florida judge on allegations of fraud. The story was accompanied by a photograph in which the woman “removed all of her clothing, standing nude before the judge and crouched down on the floor of the courtroom before being removed,” Mr. Ackerman wrote.
The New York Sun was unable yesterday to locate the woman in question and therefore decided not to publish her name, although it appeared in Mr. Ackerman’s report. Unlike Mr. Nair, who refused to cooperate with Mr. Ackerman but nevertheless was granted five pages of reply, the report does not include any response from the woman in question, or any comment as to whether the nude woman on the Internet was in fact the same person.
“He was a focus of the report,” a spokesman for Mr. Annan, Stephane Dujarric, told the Sun when asked why only Mr. Nair was allowed to add his reply.
At least in one of the cases of the five detailed in the report, Mr. Ackerman finds that the way Mr. Nair and his top aide, Barbara Dixon, dismissed a senior OIOS investigator, Francois Pascal, has “created the impression of unfairness.” Mr. Nair and Ms. Dixon “might be seen as having failed to act in conformity with applicable principles of due process.” In other cases, Mr. Nair “appeared to bypass the process in place to guide and inform decision making,” Mr. Ackerman wrote.
Mr. Ackerman told the Sun yesterday that although more than a month has passed between when he submitted his findings to Mr. Annan and the time it was published yesterday, no changes were made by the Secretariat to his independent report.
Mr.Annan followed Mr.Ackerman’s report by writing to Mr. Nair, “Let me stress my personal dismay that you were subject to an extended period of unnecessary and unmerited public innuendo.” The time “taken by Mr. Ackerman,” Mr. Annan added, “regrettably lasted much longer than was expected.”
Mr. Nair, who currently serves as his native Singapore’s ambassador to Dubai, retired from his U.N. post a year ago amid a storm of allegations against him. An internal probe did not satisfy the staff union and led to a resolution expressing “no confidence” in Mr. Annan’s top management team.
The allegations against Mr. Nair received press attention as U.N. scandals mushroomed daily. Mr. Annan frequently was asked how he planned to “investigate the investigator,” but only after increased pressure Mr. Ackerman was finally picked to look into the allegations.
The Ackerman report was to be completed by June 2005, Mr. Dujarric told reporters at the time. A year later – yesterday – the United Nations released the report by Mr. Ackerman, who was assisted by his law partner, John Vanderstar.
Mr. Ackerman blamed much of the delay on the OIOS itself.The office declined to act on his requests for evidentiary material even after instructed to do so by Mr. Malloch Brown last March.
“To date, neither a response from OIOS to the March 2006 request nor any further OIOS documents have been provided,” Mr.Ackerman wrote in his report.
Mr. Nair refused to cooperate with the investigation as well, saying he was “represented by attorneys in New York City and that the matter should be referred to them,” according to the report.
In his conclusions, after stressing that his access to evidence was “limited,” Mr. Ackerman found no evidence to support some allegations regarding, in one case, payments made to Mr. Nair to make an appointment in his office, and in another, regarding a female staffer who was allegedly promoted by Mr. Nair in exchange for sexual favors.
Based on those conclusions, the U.N. Web site yesterday headlined its account of Mr. Ackerman’s findings “Investigation Clears Former U.N. Oversight Chief of Allegations of Improper Behavior.”