My name is Peter Anthony Gallo. I used to work for the United Nations. From 2011 to 2015, I was an Investigator in the Investigations Division of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS/ID) based in New York.
That should have been fine, and there should be absolutely no story here – but for reasons the UN has been unwilling and unable to answer, OIOS considers it somehow “inappropriate” that as an investigator with 20 years experience, I should demonstrate any form of curiousity or ask too many questions when actually conducting an investigation.
OIOS was most anxious that I only ask pre-approved questions when interviewing witnesses, and most certainly never ask any question “just to satisfy my curiousity”.
How is that supposed to work? A good question and one I cannot really answer, but OIOS insisted that my work was not of the required standard, and for good measure, required me to agree to a ‘Performance Improvement Plan’ – one of the objectives of which was that I “improve my judgement.” (Please do not ask how anyone was going to measure the extent to which my judgement had been improved because that is another very good question which I cannot answer.)
Given that there was not a single investigation that I had been mishandled, this attempt to impose a PIP caused me to ask what I was alleged to have done wrong.
And that was the point at which the wheel came off the wagon because NOBODY could answer my questions! The UN insisted, however, that they did not have to do so….
How does that work?
As an investigator with over 20 years experience and more qualifications (both legal qualifications and investigative qualifications) than both my immediate supervisor and my Unit Chief combined, I was being told that I should be in the remedial class but nobody could explain why. My supervisors were unable to point out a single example of anything I had done wrong, but the UN insisted that they do not have to. That makes a lot of sense!
So, I started out simply trying to defend my professional reputation, and the UN bent over backwards to defend the indefensible, proving to me that what passes for “management’ in the Organisation is, in fact a joke. What did I do to merit that PIP? The more I tried to get answers to this simple question, the harder the UN tried to find something to use against me.
After a number of failed attempts, their crowning achievement in this regard was when both my former supervisor and my former Unit Chief accused of “a possible assault”.
It appeared that (one two separate occasions) I am alleged to have walked along the corridor in such a way that I MIGHT have bumped into them, had they (or presumably I) had not avoided being bumped into, because there was never any actual “bumping into”. Anyone who has ever walked along an office corridor, or indeed anyone who has ever walked on a pavement, should be aware of the simple collision avoidance strategy of stepping slightly to one side. I have been familiar with this procedure myself since early childhood.
In the UN, however, this possibility that I “might have been going to bump into” someone was somehow deemed to be “a possible assault”. It is at times like this that one comes to conclude that the monkeys are in charge of the zoo, the lunatics are in charge of the asylum, and maybe everyone through the Looking Glass was perfectly sane EXCEPT for Alice….
My contract expired and I was not interested in renewing it.
Then the cover-up of the child sex abuse was reported in the newspapers, and with it the manipulation of OIOS by senior management of the UN for their own petty political purposes. I had been a victim of those petty politics but any residual concern I may have had for my own reputation was overshadowed by what I saw to be my moral obligation to do something to stand up for the victims of the UN’s abuses.
It was all started because of the attempt to impose a PIP that could not be unjustified, so if the UN doesn’t like me, they only have themselves to blame. All that anyone had to do was answer my questions and (if they were able to do so) I would shut up…..
They could not do so. Draw your own conclusions as to why.
I am not answerable to Ban Ki Moon. Responsibility for the corruption and the lack of accountability in the UN rests with him. I have no respect for any organisation that fails in their obligations to protect little boys as young as nine years old from sexual abuse, because that is what the UN has become under his “leadership.”
Prior to joining the UN I had worked in the private sector in Asia for 19 years, 18 of which were spent as an investigator and anti-money laundering / counter terrorist financing consultant, where I was recognised as one of the leading authorities on the subject of the methodologies of money laundering. I also did some part-time university lecturing in investigation management, spoke at numerous conferences and authored about two dozen articles published in various professional journals and news magazines. I have a degree in Law from one of the leading law schools in Scotland, an MBA from one of the most respected business schools in Europe and two other postgraduate degrees in law. I am admitted to practice law in Scotland, Hong Kong and the State of New York. In the past, I also held qualifications as a Certified Fraud Examiner and as a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist.
Then I joined the UN, where I was perfectly loyal to the Organisation, defended it when the need arose and had no problem with it. Although I never believed the Organisation to be perfect – and it most certainly was not – I accepted those peculiarities and worked within the system to try to improve what had to be improved. I obeyed the Regulations and Rules myself and investigated my cases as diligently as I had always done in the past.
Then, just before the end of my first two-year contract, and for nothing more than petty political motives, my professional reputation was intentionally and callously destroyed, not just to disadvantage me within the UN, but to cause great harm to my chances of working in any professional role ever again. I was given a very damaging document critical of my professional work and asked to sign it immediately. It was called a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). This basically portrayed me as being so incompetent that I required to be in the remedial class. That action was unwarranted.
So, as provided for in the relevant UN regulations, I responded by asking 38 questions. The answers to these questions would have shown whether or not my Supervisors were justified in trying to take action against me and identify what exactly I had done that was alleged to be a “performance shortcoming.”
In the UN, as in any Organisation, there is a presumption of legitimacy in managerial decisions, but it is a rebuttable presumption. I was employed as an Investigator, yet this was an attempt to sanction me for asking questions, and requiring me to conduct investigations by only asking questions that had been pre-approved.
The PIP also required me to “improve my judgement” – to an arbitrary and subjective standard which cannot be objectively measured, but would be decided by someone responsible for some very questionable decisions himself.
OIOS sought to portray me as a being an imbecile of unimaginable incompetence, but when I asked for examples of what I was alleged to have done wrong – they refused to answer. When I challenged this, the senior management of the United Nations insisted that I had no right to any explanation. At the same time, of course, my detractors – who themselves had a history of multiple misconduct complaints and highly unethical conduct, and who were responsible for a litany of mismanaged investigations and costly failures – were protected from the consequences of their ill-considered actions.
Why would no one answer those 38 questions? The very fact that I had to ask for an example of what I had done wrong should actually have been proof that I really was so unbelievably dim-witted that I didn’t even appreciate just how dumb I really was…..
This should have opened the door to a self-fulfilling prophesy. All that anyone had to do was answer my questions and I would not have a leg to stand on.
Answering those questions, of course, is the question the UN was most anxious to avoid.
It’s not brain surgery. It’s Management 1.01, and it doesn’t really matter if someone is the Chief Rocket Scientist at NASA or the chap who mops the toilet floor in the MacDonalds at the Bus Station. If official action is to be taken against someone, allegedly for not doing their work properly, the question is whether or not they have a right to know what they have done wrong.
Curiously enough, I then suddenly became the subject of repeated complaints and accusations that the UN refused to consider either harassment or retaliation. Complaints were made about the manner in which I said “How are you?’ to someone in the morning, (oddly enough, the complainant happened to be the author of the PIP) and about my “sabotaging cases” despite the subject matter being something that was not being investigated. Complaints were made about the way I forwarded an e-mail, and about the way I walked past the Deputy Directors office. I was accused (and indeed found guilty) of ‘harassment’ for making reference to a public judgement from the UN Dispute Tribunal, despite the fact that the aggrieved party denied having complained about the matter, denied wanting it investigated and never claimed to have been harassed in any way. I was even accused of “assault” – apparently for walking in such a way that I might bump into someone, though again the details were withheld from me and how this constitutes any sort of assault remains one of life’s little mysteries. A complaint was also made that I had, might or could bring a firearm to the office, something which would be risible were it not such a very serious criminal charge.
I joined the UN with a considerable amount of peer respect internationally and an unblemished professional reputation that had taken me 25 years to build.
My official record, as far as the UN was concerned, is now very different. The UN wishes to portray me as so incompetent and unprofessional as to be unemployable.
The UN so-called internal justice system was deftly used to deny me any opportunity to defend myself against patently malicious and defamatory attacks on my professional reputation. The UN insists that I was 100% wrong 100% of the time when I tried to challenge anything, and addressed the merits of 0% of anything I raised. Most of all, they insisted that I had no right to have answers to the 38 questions I had asked about what I was alleged to have done wrong.
As if that alone were not enough, I was accused of being a potential armed threat to the safety and security of my colleagues, but the UN would neither acknowledge that that complaint may have been made in bad faith nor even formally clear me of the accusation. Instead, they invoked the UN Convention on Privileges and Immunities to deny me access to the US civil justice system when I tried to clear my name.
It was a choice between either:
a) being known as the most incompetent, unprofessional and thoroughly useless investigator in the history of the United Nations, or
b) taking my chances in the court of public opinion by becoming a whistle-blower.
All of my professional life, whether practising law or as an investigator; my work has involved a subject matter that was confidential, and the very idea that I might breach such a confidence was an anathema to me.
What finally tipped the balance however was the UN’s handling of the scandal of the child sex abuse in the Central African Republic. That made the choice somewhat easier; I was going with Option B.
So, if the Secretary-General doesn’t appreciate his organisation’s dirty laundry being aired in public; the fact remains that all that anyone had to do to shut me up was address those 38 questions.
Nobody ever would, and one does not need the brains of an Archbishop to work out that the reason why they wouldn’t.