Project Management

Publishing

Wednesday
May232018

War, Peace and Development | May 2018 


"The United Nations is designed to make possible lasting freedom and independence for all its members."

“We must build a new world – a far better world – one in which the eternal dignity of man is respected.” 

US President Harry S. Truman

"Today continuing poverty and distress are a deeper and more important cause of international tensions, of the conditions that can produce war, than previously."

"The stark and inescapable fact is that today we cannot defend our society by war since total war is total destruction, and if war is used as an instrument of policy, eventually we will have total war."

"The grim fact is that we prepare for war like precocious giants, and for peace like retarded pygmies."

Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson

"a super-crate, to ship a fiasco to hell"

"a sinister emblem for world power"

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright 

The First Development Phase 

From its founding, the United Nations was constructed around the highest human aspirations after two devastating World Wars, while also drawing its critics and skeptics (American architect Frank Lloyd Wright being one of the more biting).

In January 1949, US President Harry Truman set forth a challenge for the remainder of the 20th Century. The wealthy nations must aid the poorer ones to become wealthier and more democratic: in short, to become like the United States (Starke 2001: 143). The means of accomplishing this was to be international development, and its tool, foreign aid. 

Development as defined by President Truman at the start of the development period of the 20th century meant “nothing less than freeing a people from want, war, and tyranny, a definition it is hard to improve on even today (Starke 2000: 153).”

I grew up in the Canada of the 1970s and 1980s. For most of that time, the charismatic and internationally-minded Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was in power. Canada's profile and role in the United Nations and international development was high at this time, in particular in 'peacekeeping' missions. 

Peacekeeping holds a special place for Canadians. An innovative initiative from then-Ambassador to the United Nations and later Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in the 1950s (he received the Nobel Peace Prize for it), Canada has since had a long history with peacekeeping missions.

When I served with the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve in the early 1980s, we trained not only for war with our Cold War foe the Soviet Union, but also for peacekeeping missions. In fact I nearly went on one if not for my acceptance to study at the University of Toronto in 1985. Otherwise, I would have been off on a peacekeeping mission that year.  

This phase of international development and the United Nations was framed by the Cold War and its tensions and limits: the world divided between opposing ideologies and economic systems and where travel between these worlds was severely restricted. 

And when I graduated from the University of Toronto, all this fell apart very quickly. The First Phase of International Development had come to a swift end. 

Above: Pierre Trudeau, John Turner, Jean Chretien and Prime Minister Lester Pearson. Photographed 4 April 1967. Source: Digital Library of Canada. Below: David South photographed at Hillcrest High School, Ottawa, Canada, 1985.

The Second Development Phase

In 1997, I was hired to head the communications office for the UN/UNDP Mongolia mission. It was a pivotal time in international development. With the forces of 'globalization' unleashed (and China's rapid rise already underway), the UN was clearly also in a period of great change and stress.  


United Nations identity card from circa 1997.

UN head of communications for Mongolia, David South (seated front row centre), 1997-1999.

The Third Development Phase

21 Years of Creating International Change | 1997 - 2018

In the 1990s, Canada played a very active role in the United Nations, in particular with its peacekeeping missions. 

Stories

Aid Organization Gives Overseas Hungry Diet Food: Diet Giant Slim-Fast Gets Tax Write-off for Donating Products

Somali Killings Reveal Ugly Side of Elite Regiment

Does the UN Know What it's Doing?

State of Decay: Haiti Turns to Free-Market Economics and the UN to Save Itself

Opinion: Canada is Allowing U.S. to Dictate Haiti's Renewal: More News and Opinion on What the UN Soldiers Call the "Haitian Vacation"

Starting from Scratch: The Challenge of Transition

Philippine Conference Tackles Asia's AIDS Crisis

Lamas Against AIDS

UN Contest Winner in "State of Total Bliss"

A UNDP Success Story: Grassroots Environmental Campaign Mobilizes Thousands in Mongolia

Freedom of Expression: Introducing Investigative Journalism to Local Media

Traffic Signs Bring Safety to the Streets

Eco-cities Up Close

Smart Cities Up Close

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2007

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2008

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2009

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2010

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2011

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2012

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2013

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2014 

Books + Publications

A Steppe Back?: Economic Liberalisation and Poverty Reduction in Mongolia

Blue Sky Bulletin Newsletter UNDP Mongolia | 1997-1999

Human Development Report Mongolia 1997

In The Interests of the Exploited?: The Role of Development Pressure Groups in the UK

In Their Own Words: Selected Writings by Journalists on Mongolia, 1997-1999 

Innovations in Green Economy: Top Three Agenda

Lima to Delhi: What Can Be Learned on Urban Resilience?

Mongolia Update - Coverage of 1998 Political Changes

Mongolian AIDS Bulletin 

A Partnership for Progress: UNDP in Mongolia 1997

Pax Chaotica: A Re-evaluation of Post-WWII Economic and Political Order

The Sweet Smell of Failure: The World Bank and the Persistence of Poverty

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 1: Mobile Phones and Information Technology

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 2: Youth and Entrepreneurship

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 3: Agribusiness and Food Security

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 4: Cities and Urbanization

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 5: Waste and Recycling 

Southern Innovator and the Growing Global Innovation Culture: Background Paper 

South-South Cooperation for Cities in Asia

UNDP in Mongolia: The Guide | 1997-1999

UNDP Travelling Seminar: Environment and Development | Mongolia 1998

Timeline

Early to Mid-1990s: Covering the United Nations as a Journalist. This included covering the Canadian UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti

1997: Begin a two-year assignment as head of communications for the UN/UNDP Mongolia mission (1997-1999). Develop and launch the UN Mongolia Development Portal (www.un-mongolia.mn). Develop and launch the mission's first newsletter, Blue Sky Bulletin. 

1998: Develop and launch Mongolia's first web magazine, Ger. 

1999: 

2000: Ukraine.

2001: Begin work on the development of the GOSH Child Health Portal for the National Health Service.

2002/2003:

2004: South Africa.

2005: Turkmenistan. Mongolia.

2006: Turkmenistan. Begin working for the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation in New York

2007: Research and write UN e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions.

2008:

2009:

2010: Begin development of the new global magazine Southern Innovator with the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation and a design team in Iceland.

2011: Launch the first issue of Southern Innovator Magazine. 

2012:

2013:

2014:

2015:

2016:

2017:

2018: 

What is the Next Agenda for the Next 21 Years?

© David South Consulting 2018 

Wednesday
May022018

Investigative Journalism: Haiti Assignment | 1996

Former colleague from Canada's Id Magazine, photographer Phillip Smith (now an epic web guru/Digital Product Developer based in Palo Alto, California), was going through his archive of photo journalism and dug up the following two photographs from our Haiti assignment in 1996. The stories from that assignment can be read here: http://www.davidsouthconsulting.com/stories/2015/6/12/state-of-decay-haiti-turns-to-free-market-economics-and-the.html

Reporting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti for Id Magazine in 1996.
© David South Consulting 2018 
Tuesday
May012018

Billy Bragg at Bank of England | 19 April 2018

On 19 April I had the pleasure of (briefly) meeting legendary musician Billy Bragg as he addressed the One Bank Flagship Seminar at the Bank of England, located in the financial heart of London's City, a centre of the world's economy. The topic of his seminar was accountability in the 21st century and you can read the transcript here: https://braggiesblog.wordpress.com

Or watch the livestream here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=6&v=r6zGgR-PeO4

It was an unusual step for the Bank to take (having a popular musician address the men and women of London's financial sector) and seems to indicate a desire to open up to the outside world the inner workings of this powerful and historic financial institution (founded in 1694). Read more about the Bank of England's history here: https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/about/history

Billy Bragg speaks with youth at the Bank of England.

© David South Consulting 2018
Sunday
Mar042018

The Strange Saga of "South-South News" | May 2018

 

"We will be asking: is bribery business as usual at the UN?", US Attorney Preet Bharara, October 2015

"If proven, today's charges will confirm that the cancer of corruption that plagues too many local and state governments infects the United Nations as well.", US Attorney Preet Bharara, October 2015

"Corruption at any level of government undermines the rule of law and cannot be tolerated. But corruption is especially corrosive when it occurs at an international body like the United Nations. By paying bribes to two U.N. ambassadors to advance his interest in obtaining formal support for the Macau conference center project, Ng Lap Seng tried to manipulate the functions of the United Nations. The sentence handed down today demonstrates that those who engage in corruption will pay a heavy price and serves as a reminder that no one stands above the law.", Acting Assistant General John P. Cronan, May 2018

"It is important to send a message, to the people at the UN itself and to other institutions in this country, that perverting the decision-making or attempting to pervert the decision-making through bribes will not be tolerated.", US District Judge Vernon Broderick, May 2018

It is a story that has it all: the gambling sin-bin of Macau, human and sex trafficking, bribery, corruption, money laundering, spies, and, if they are to be believed, naive UN officials hiding behind their laissez-passer passports who knew nothing about all of this but were happy to take the money for a five-star conference and a trip to China (and a free iPad). How the UN ended up in this quagmire leaves many puzzled and perplexed. Then there is a so-called "21st century" media service that really is a "conduit" for bribery and money laundering (and possibly fake news), and who to this day is still reporting from the United Nations. 

May 2018 saw the ending of one chapter in the ongoing corruption saga surrounding the executives of South-South News and their alleged bribery and money laundering conduit targeting the United Nations (UN). On 11 May 2018 Ng Lap Seng was sentenced to 4 years in prison for being the ring leader of an elaborate, multi-year, multinational scheme to bribe UN officials and launder money into the United States.

On 28 February 2018 Jeff Yin received a seven-month prison sentence related to the corruption scandal that first erupted in September 2015, with the arrests in New York (home of the UN's global headquarters) of his boss, Macau casino owner and businessman Ng Lap Seng and assistant, Yin, by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation). Foreign Policy called the case one of "The Worst Corruption Scandals of 2015". Read the US Justice Department Docket here: https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/fcpa/cases/ng-lap-seng-and-jeff-c-yin.

The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York at the time, Preet Bharara, released a flowchart  showing how the alleged bribery scheme targetting the United Nations worked. A series of court trials followed for the various co-conspirators, including senior executives and board members for South-South News, culminating in the 27 July 2017 conviction of the alleged ring leader of the scheme, Macau casino billionaire Ng Lap Seng, on six counts "for his role in a scheme to bribe United Nations ambassadors to obtain support to build a conference center in Macau that would host, among other events, the annual United Nations Global South-South Development Expo". He used the news service South-South News as a "conduit for bribery and money laundering" at the United Nations, according to the FBI, something admitted to by various co-conspirators in court and under oath.

"South-South staff found him to be 'humble, very happy to host a meeting and become closer to the U.N.,' said Inyang Ebong-Harstrup, deputy director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, a division of the U.N., who met Mr. Ng in August when she traveled to Macau." The Wall Street Journal (9 October 2015)

Background

The "21st century" media service South-South News (which still exists) was founded in 2010 by Ng Lap Seng and Ambassador Francis Lorenzo with US $12 million. According to the FBI, Seng did this with the objective of bribing UN officials, laundering money into the United States - bringing US $4.5 million into the US in cash over a period of two years - and lobbying for the building of a new UN facility in Macau for the annual Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD Expo) - a "Geneva of Asia". The new facility would cost US $3 billion and be built by Ng Lap Seng's construction company.

Macau has been called by a former UN official in charge of the organisation's anti-human trafficking work a world centre of modern human slave trafficking. Ng Lap Seng, in a 2010 assessment by International Risk Ltd., was found to be "characterized in the media as a 'Macau Crime Lord' and kingpin of the international slave prostitution trade".   

Ng Lap Seng's Sun Kian Ip Group was barred from the UN's Global Compact, according to The Wall Street Journal, and Seng was flagged up as a person not to do business with, including by Interpol. Despite this track record and multiple warning signs, both South-South News and the United Nations took money from Ng Lap Seng. The UN has clear rules regarding due diligence for income sources and has rules against bribery, corruption and human and sex trafficking in all its forms.

One of the co-conspirators in the scheme was former UN General Assembly President John Ashe. He died due to a weightlifting accident a day before he had to testify in a New York court room.  

Other Co-Conspirators and Charges: 

John W. Ashe, President of UN General Assembly: Filing False Income Tax Returns

Heidi Hong Park (Piao), Global Sustainability Foundation - Finance Director: Conspiracy to Commit Bribery

Shiwei (Sheri) Yan, Global Sustainability Foundation - Founder and CEO: Conspiracy to Commit Bribery

Francis Lorenzo, Deputy Permanent Respresentative to the UN for the Dominican Republic: Bribery

Sources: Foreign Policy, Stanford Law School, US Justice Department, The Wall Street Journal.

Update: As the net has widened, others have also been charged and associated with the original plot to bribe UN officials and launder money. They are: 

Jeff Yin, aide to Ng Lap Seng. South China Morning Post: Ex-aide of Macau billionaire Ng Lap Seng, jailed by US in fallout from UN bribery scandal, blames 'traditional' Chinese upbringing

Ying Lin, Air China. Reuters: Ex-Air China employee wins dismissal of U.S. smuggling charge

Roger Uren, formerly of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. The Sydney Morning Herald: Charges loom for ex-intelligence official Roger Uren after ASIO raid

Julia Vivi (Vivian) Wang, Vice President, South-South News. Law 360: Woman Who Helped Bribe Top Diplomat Cops To FCPA Counts. WKZO: Chinese-born executive pleads guilty in U.N. bribery case . Stanford Law School: Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Clearinghouse. Case Information: United States of America v. Julia Vivi Wang.

In the Headlines

2015

March

USA News Online.com: South-South Cooperation and Chinese Sun Kian Ip Group Signs [sic] Cooperation Agreement

September

ABCNews: FBI Arrests Chinese Millionaire Once Tied to Clinton $$ Scandal

October

News24: UN Looks at Donations Linked to Bribery Scandal

South China Morning Post: UN rejects US$15 million donation from Macau billionaire Ng Lap Seng pending bribery investigation 

The New York Times: Former U.N. President and Chinese Billionaire Are Accused in Graft Scheme

The Wall Street Journal: U.N. Team Had Cleared Group at Center of Bribery Case: Officials met in April with Ng Lap Seng, didn't detect any problems

The Wall Street Journal: Nonprofit Ties Scrutinized in U.N. Scandal: Alleged role of two nonprofits in bribery case sheds lights on interlaced relationships between diplomats and privately funded groups

Jhon William Ashe, Presidente saliente de la Asamblea General de la ONU preso por corruption

The Sydney Morning Herald: Australia-China social queen Sheri Yan arrested for bribery

2016

March

Courthouse News: United Nations Bribery Scandal Snares Gala VP

April

Reuters: U.N. news outlet at center of bribery case defends its intergrity

August

The Wall Street Journal: Former Air China Manager Charged with Smuggling in U.S. for Chinese Military: Suspect is associate of Macau billionaire in U.N. bribery scheme

The Wall Street Journal: U.N. Bribery Probe Uncovers Suspected Chinese Agent: U.S. officials look into Beijing businessman's ties to indicted Macau billionaire

2017

June

ABC News: ASIO investigation targets Communist Party links to Australian political system

The Sydney Morning Herald: China's Operation Australia: Payments, power and our politicians

July

Financial Times: Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng convicted in UN bribery case: Tycoon paid inducements to promote 'Geneva of Asia' project in Macau

The Sydney Morning Herald: Charges loom for ex-intelligence official Roger Uren after ASIO raid

Global Investigations Review - Just Anti-Corruption: UN bribery trial heats up with tales of extramarital affair and cash bag carried across Manhattan

2018

March

South China Morning Post: Ex-aide of Macau billionaire Ng Lap Seng, jailed by US in fallout from UN bribery scandal, blames 'traditional' Chinese upbringing  

April

Macau Daily Times: Prosecutors Want Six Years in Ng Lap Seng Sentencing

Reuters: Chinese-born Executive Pleads Guilty in U.N. Bribery Case

May

ABS-CBN News: Chinese Billionaire Sentenced Four Years in UN Scandal

The New York Times: Macau Tycoon Gets 4 Years in Prison for Bribing U.N. Diplomats

News Americas: Jail for Chinese Billionaire Who Bribed Caribbean Born UN Officials

Reuters: Macau Billionaire Gets Four Years Prison for Bribing U.N. Officials

LawFuel: Billionaire Jailed for 4 Years Over Casino Bribery Role

South China Morning Post: Chinese Billionaire Ng Lap-Seng gets Four Years in US Prison for Bribing UN Officials US$1.7m to Support Plans for Macau Conference Centre

The Sydney Morning Herald: Political Donor Chau Chak Wing Behind UN Bribe Scandal, Parliament told

Channel NewsAsia: Chinese-Australian Political Donor 'Linked to UN Bribery Scandal'

The New York Times: In Australia, Fears of Chinese Meddling Rise on U.N. Bribery Case Revelation

The Australian: China's UN Power Game

The FCPA Blog: Is China Trying to Corrupt the UN? 

Further Reading

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Handbook: A Practical Guide for Multinational General Counsel, Transactional Lawyers and White Collar Criminal Practitioners by Robert W. Tarun, American Bar Association, 2010

ONU: la grande imposture by Pauline Lietar

Statement concerning the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation

How to Report Corruption and Bribery at UNDP (United Nations Development Programme)

The Office of Audit and Investigations (OAI) "provides UNDP with effective independent and objective internal oversight that is designed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of UNDP's operations in achieving its development goals and objectives through the provision of internal audit and related advisory services, and investigation services."  

They can be directly emailed here: reportmisconduct@undp.org

Note: This blog post provides a summary of the unfolding corruption case that targeted the United Nations from 2010 and was revealed in 2015 by US authorities. It is offered as a resource for those interested in the role played by corruption in international development and international institutions, or who are interested in case law and the application of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. If anything, the case stands as a brazen act of criminality and corruption, and, with South-South News still based out of the United Nations and still functioning as a news service, maybe proof the UN has a long way to go to walk the talk on fighting corruption.

In future blog posts we will explore what the ongoing trials have revealed about this case and the United Nations and what lessons can be learned. 

Key Terms and Definitions

Bribe: Ttry to make someone do something for you by giving them moneypresents, or something else that they want.  

Bribery: The crime of giving someone money or something else of value, often illegally, to persuade that person to do something you want.

Corruption: Dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery. 

Discovery: The process of finding information, a place, or an objectespecially for the first time, or the thing that is found. Part of a legal process in which the lawyers from one side in a case give documents relating to their case to the other side, before the trial begins.

Due Diligence: Action that is considered reasonable for people to be expected to take in order to keep themselves or others and their property safe. The detailed examination of a company and its financial records, done before becoming involved in a business arrangement with it.

FCPA: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended, 15 U.S.C. §§ 78dd-1, et seq. ("FCPA"), was enacted for the purpose of making it unlawful for certain classes of persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. Specifically, the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA prohibit the willful use of the mails or any means of instrumentality of interstate commerce corruptly in furtherance of any offer, payment, promise to pay, or authorization of the payment of money or anything of value to any person, while knowing that all or a portion of such money or thing of value will be offered, given or promised, directly or indirectly, to a foreign official to influence the foreign official in his or her official capacity, induce the foreign official to do or omit to do an act in violation of his or her lawful duty, or to secure any improper advantage in order to assist in obtaining or retaining business for or with, or directing business to, any person.

Money Laundering: The crime of moving money that has been obtained illegally through banks and other businesses to make it seem as if the money has been obtained legally.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): The Division for Sustainable Development Goals (DSDG) seeks to provide leadership and catalyse action in promoting and coordinating implementation of internationally agreed development goals, including the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UN: The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945.  It is currently made up of 193 Member States.  The mission and work of the United Nations are guided by the purposes and principles contained in its founding Charter.

UNDP: United Nations Development Programme. On the ground in about 170 countries and territories, UNDP works to eradicate poverty while protecting the planet.

UN Global Compact: A call to companies to align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and take actions that advance societal goals.

UN General Assembly: The General Assembly is one of the six main organs of the United Nations, the only one in which all Member States have equal representation: one nation, one vote. All 193 Member States of the United Nations are represented in this unique forum to discuss and work together on a wide array of international issues covered by the UN Charter, such as development, peace and security, international law, etc.

UNOSSC: United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (formerly the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation). The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) is a knowledge hub providing advisory and consulting services to all stakeholders on South-South and triangular cooperation. It enables developing countries to effectively face their development challenges and harness opportunities to address them.

Wednesday
Feb142018

Mongolia's Musical Entrepreneurs Led Way Out of Crisis | 2018

 


Publisher: UNDP Mongolia Communications Office/Press Institute of Mongolia

Managing Editor: David South

Editorial Advisors: Ts. Enkhbat, Mustafa Eric, David South

Author and Researcher: Peter Marsh, Indiana University

Copy Editor: N. Oyuntungalag

Production Editor: B. Bayarmaa

Published: 1999

ISBN 99929-5-018-8

It was the late 1990s. Mongolia was still recovering from the "one of the biggest peacetime economic collapses ever" (Mongolia's Economic Reforms: Background, Content and Prospects, Richard Pomfret, University of Adelaide, 1994). But it was the country's young musicians who were showing the way out of the crisis, setting an example for entrepreneurship in the new, free-market economy that emerged in the country after 1990.

As UNDP Communications Officer N. Oyuntungalag wrote in the Blue Sky Bulletin newsletter, "A thriving pop and rock scene has emerged over the last four years. .. The energy of these musicians and singers has not gone unnoticed by the burgeoning advertising market. Pop bands are promoting many things, from face creams to beer. ... [but] there has been little serious writing on the business of popular music."  

As the book's author, American ethnomusicologist Peter Marsh, said in an interview with UNDP's Blue Sky Bulletin newsletter, "we thought our book would provide important ideas about the direction and nature of the nation's development.

"My impression about Mongolian pop-rock is that it is a lively, diverse and at times innovative Mongolian art form that closely reflects many of the hopes, fears and aspirations of its primary audience, Mongolian youth."

The book still stands as an unusual and innovative contribution to thinking around the role played by youth in development and business and in crisis recovery.   

© David South Consulting 2018