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2017~ EXCLUSIVE: Global Fund Backed by Bill Gates to Launch Probe in the Wake of Fraud

2017-06-07 03:47 [FUND] Source:Netword
Guide:An independent probe into fraud allegations at the $28 billion global health fund supported by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda will b

An independent probe into fraud allegations at the $28 billion global health fund supported by founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda will be announced later this week, perhaps as early as Wednesday, Fox News has learned.

The investigation was originally demanded by the government of Germany, which last week announced the suspension of more than $250 million in New contributions to the fund. Its imminent announcement was officially confirmed to Fox News by Jon Liden, a spokesman for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, and (GFATM), who added that “an independent, trusted individual” will be named as head of the probe, which the fund prefers to call a “review.”

Negotiations about the scope of the probe were still under way Tuesday, and were slated to include a major international conference call among donors on Wednesday. According to Liden, “all donor countries” to the fund would be invited to participate in the review.

Some 54 countries have contributed or pledged more than $28 billion to the fund since 2001, according to the Global Fund. The United States is far and away its biggest supporter, with donations and pledges of more than $9.5 billion from 2001 through 2013; the U.S. has paid up more than $5.1 billion of that total.

The GFATM has also received backing from a number of high-profile private-sector institutions, including Product (RED), which has the backing of rock star Bono; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and the Fox Television show ."

So far, only Germany and Sweden ($85 million) have suspended upcoming donations to the fund.German Development Minister Dirk Niebel, who initially sparked the funding freeze, has said that the funding freeze will stay in place until the investigation finishes its work, which he anticipates will be this summer.

According to Germany’s Niebel, the fund has “given an assurance that the ongoing treatment of sick people will not be compromised at any point by the investigations.” But according to the fund’s spokesman, “any withholding of a German contribution for 2011 will affect our ability to sign grants approved for funding in December 2010.”

The controversy over the misuse of Global Fund health money erupted two weeks ago, after an Associated Press story, citing a report from the fund’s inspector-general, charged that “as much as two-thirds” of some Global Fund health grants to developing countries had been “eaten up by corruption.” The story specifically named projects in Djibouti, Mali, Mauritania and Zambia, and cited forged or non-existent receipts for “training events,” phony travel and housing claims and outright theft, along with shoddy bookkeeping

In response, the Global Fund noted that all of the wrongdoing had been uncovered by the fund itself the previous year; that programs in the offending countries had been suspended and criminal charges laid; and that the fund was demanding the return of $34 million. The total amount involved, according to the Global Fund, was only a pittance compared to some $13 billion in spending so far. It quoted the inspector general, John Parsons, as declaring that “The distinguishing feature of the Global Fund is that it is very open when it uncovers corruption.”

On the other hand, only a fraction of the total Global Fund disbursements had been examined.
Further complicating the issue was the fact that the fund does not manage the health programs it finances in afflicted countries, but delegates that to various “implementing agencies” or governments themselves -- or parts of the .

In the case of Mauritania, half the fund’s money was managed directly by the government, but some projects were managed by the sprawling United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the U.N.’s flagship anti-poverty agency. According to a UNDP spokesman, the agency’s own auditors identified “more than $1 million in fraud” involving fund money among UNDP’s government partners, and blew the whistle itself.

Worldwide, UNDP is among the largest managers for Global Fund projects, handling 63 grants in 27 countries, worth about $1.1 billion, and providing “capacity development support” to “a wide variety” of other fund partners, according to a UNDP spokesman.

The main reason for the fund’s reliance on UNDP, according to knowledgeable sources, is the U.N. agency’s array of offices in 166 countries, including a large number where the fund can’t find other project managers.

Just how sure the Global Fund can be that UNDP is doing its job well, however, is a matter of contention. According to a source familiar with the situation, it is a longstanding sore point between the Global Fund and UNDP that the U.N. agency does not provide copies to non-government donors of internal audits it carries out on Global Fund projects. Instead, the fund gets overall summaries.

“This is a big weakness,” says one informed source, who added that there has been a “long dialogue” between the two institutions over the lack of auditing information and that the fund’s campaign to get full auditing details from the agency is continuing. Fox News has learned that the fund’s inspector general, John Parsons, met with UNDP officials Tuesday on the issue.

“You can’t manage billions of dollars in spending volume just by handing over summaries of audits,” the source added.

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