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DPR Korea independent panel making headway into reviewing UNDP activities

7 December 2007An independent panel announced today that it is making headway reviewing allegations about the activities of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) that are not being considered by an existing probe by the UN Board of Auditors. The External Independent Investigative Review Panel – led by Miklos Németh, the former Prime Minister of Hungary and a current member to the Advisory Council of Transparency International – “is making substantial progress,” it said in a statement.The three-person Panel said has collected information and data, studied many documents provided by different sources, interviewed individuals both within and outside UNDP and has established a comprehensive investigation of all issued covered by the Terms of Reference.The Panel, whose creation was announced in August, will also examine documents from the agency’s DPRK office, which are en route to New York and will be kept in a secure area upon their arrival.Although the original intention was for the body to submit a report by the end of this year, it announced today that due to the “significant work still ahead of the Panel, it has concluded that it will not be able to complete its task before the end of this year.”Instead, it will finish its work and submit its final report at the end of March 2008, at the very latest, today’s statement said.In January, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ordered the Board to audit amid allegations aired in the media that funds used by UN agencies to help in humanitarian efforts in the DPRK were being channelled improperly to the Government in Pyongyang, including to its nuclear programme.The first phase of the Board’s investigation into the operations of UNDP, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) found there had been no large-scale or systematic diversion of UN funds.But the Board said that its second phase will not cover the full range of allegations and issues raised specifically about UNDP’s work in the DPRK, and the Panel led by Mr. Németh was created as a result.That body’s other two members are Chander Mohan Vasudev, formerly Permanent Secretary of Public Expenditure in the Indian Ministry of Finance, and Mary Ann Wyrsch, former UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees who is also currently the Chair of UNDP’s Audit Advisory Committee. read more