The dodgy kidney transplant that gave rise to the 0496/11 investigation was to come back and entertain us all a second time.
I had finished the report on 27 February 2013, and we knew that the subject in that case was 61 years old, which meant she would be leaving the Organisation in the summer of 2013 when she reached her 62nd birthday and the UN retirement age.
The notable thing about this investigation was that it had thrown up no fewer that three other “suspicions” that could (and possibly should) have been investigated.
I handled all three the observations the same way; I did not go off and investigate the matter, I gathered only enough information as was necessary to show probable cause that something illegal had taken place – and then I brought it to the attention of Roberta Baldini – the Unit Chief – to consider passing this up to the Investigations Intake Committee for them to make a decision.
Baldini’s response to all three had been the same: No. No, and emphatically NO….
OK, fair enough.
The day after Baldini (eventually) deemed this report to be satisfactory and I submitted the final version; I was given the “Performance Improvement Plan” which began with “Target 1. Ensure proper focus of your investigations” as an area that I had to improve. It required me to “follow directions given by the Intake Committee and (my) supervisors”and stated that “questions should be focused on the issues you are investigating and they should not be asked just to satisfy your curiosity.”
OK…. so not unreasonably – I asked: When did I not follow directions I was given? I asked when I had ever not focused on the issue I was investigating. These of course were questions that Dzuro, as my First Reporting Officer, was unable and unwilling to answer.
In the course of 0496/11, I found evidence of what appeared to be criminal offences having been committed, but not by a UN staff member (at least as far as we knew.) I raised questions about referring information to the law enforcement agencies in Jordan and …. surprise surprise – Dzuro did actually address this point in my Annual Appraisal.
Referring specifically to my e-mail of 14 January 2013 – which related to information about a suspicious document I believed to have been a forgery, Dzuro wrote: “The information Peter provided demonstrated not only his limited understanding of what OIOS does, but it also highlighted Peter’s inability to provide a focussed and factual investigation plan utilizing clear and precise language.”
Leaving aside the question of that being insulting; how does it even make any sense?
Short of suddenly developing the gift of prophesy; there was no way I could predict that I might come across evidence of a criminal offence having been committed in a Member State. This was entirely unforeseeable ancillary information that was of no investigative use to OIOS but should have been of interest to law enforcement agencies in Jordan, so first of all: How does that constitute “demonstrating a limited understanding of what OIOS does”? There is a bit of a non sequitur here….
Second; how does finding something that was unforeseeable show any “inability to provide a focussed and factual investigation plan”? Please, I wish someone would tell me because I am keen to learn.
Similarly, I am still waiting for someone to try to explain how any question of UN Privileges and Immunities could arise here because I am still scratching my head on that one too. I could be wrong of course, but I have an LLM in International Criminal Law so it is up to me to apologise of I am wrong…..
Anyway, after an inordinate amount of mucking about, I finished the report and Roberta Baldini declared herself satisfied with it. (Then the next day she gave me the PIP and the day after that I started asking those strangely unanswerable questions and she suddenly decided her satisfaction had been a bit …..premature. What a coincidence.
Normally when a report was finished it went to the Unit Chief, if the Unit Chief was happy with the report, it went to the Professional Practtices Section for “legal adequacy” or some such other excuse and they would play with it to waste a bit more time, then it would go to the program manager to make a decision.
The report in 0496/11 however, was different, it was one of only a slack handful of insurance fraud cases that actually resulted in a finding of fraud.
In the desperate attempt to try and justify the famous PIP however, Vlad Dzuro then used my Annual Appraisal to absolutely hammer me for everything I had done on the case. That would be fine if he could actually point out anything substantive that was wrong wioth it; but this is OIOS – and when there are no facts to support your prejudice, it is perfectly acceptable to proceed on the basis of innuendo….
Even more spectacular however was the quite remarkable demonstration the highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity, when (after having declared the report completed) Roberta Baldini wasted so much time going over it again and again, still looking for something to complain about that it was not sent out to the Program Manager for 16 months after I finished it.
OIOS sat on a completed investigation report for 16 MONTHS!!!
- Before anyone starts getting excited about this, when I asked if this was a record, I was met with derisive laughter because there were others that had been delayed even longer…..
This extraordinary delay is impressive, because we always knew that the subject was going to retire in a few months anyway; but this is OIOS at its best; it was more important to find some excuse to complain about Peter Gallo than it was to take action against a staff member we knew to have defrauded the Organization.
And that was all because Dzuro and Baldini couldn’t justify the PIP …. the one in which they told me that I had to “focus”. Apparently, I needed to learn how to focus on wasting 16 months instead of just getting a completed investigation report to the Program Manager! How silly of me.
So, 16 months later, when the Program Manager did eventually receive the report, they read it and came to the Earth-shattering conclusion that this looked like a case of fraud and should be referred to the national authorities for criminal prosecution!
Imagine that!!! Who could have guessed?
Well there were one or two little problems with that, including that because the subject no longer worked for the UN, she was no longer in the jurisdiction where she had been when she perpetrated the fraud and in fact we probably had no idea where she even was now that she had retired…… but apart from that, it was not a bad idea!
It was, however, exactly the same idea as I had had during the investigation, when I had asked Dzuro about passing information that we had about a criminal offence having been committed, but not my a UN staff member….. and Dzuro could not answer.
By now I was royally pissed off with the ongoing farce that passed for management in OIOS, and the total abdication of any form of accountability, so I demanded an answer to why the program manager was now recommending the same thing as I had been insulted for in my Annual Appraisal.
I wrote to “Ethical Dan” Wilson, putting him – and indeed everyone else involved in the fiasco – on the spot and demanding some answers.
While they are very good with their insults, and truly outstanding when it comes to making an unholy mess of investigations, OIOS is not very good at answers…
Dan answered to say he would not answer, so I sent a chaser. Now according to the PIP of course, I needed to improve my writing skills – so I wrote it in rhyme. (Its maybe not Milton, but it fits the subject! You might even find it mildly amusing.)
Now at this juncture, the smart kids in the class will have realised that I was no longer inclined to play this silly game any more. Dan Wilson (whose ambition is to be Director of the Ethics Office) had two choices here.
Option ‘A’ was to concede that I maybe had a point and that the for the sake of the credibility of the office if nothing else, I was entitled to some sort of answer.
The downside to that, of course, was that it would probably mean admitting that Vlad Dzuro had been just ever so slightly wrong once or twice in both the PIP and the subsequent Annual Appraisal. Unfortunately, if he did that, that might focus attention on Carman ‘No Degree’ Lapointe, who had famously described the revised PIP as “one of the better ones she had seen”. Oh dear. The noose was tightening and we were sailing perilously close to something called “accountability”…… so in reality; that was an option that would be about as welcome as a pig at a Bar Mitzvah.
Option ‘B’ on the other hand was to fall back on the old favourite, exactly as I had laid out in my email, and deflect attention away from the question about 496/11 by making a complaint about my asking questions about it.
Dan was jammed into an ethical dilemma, so he did what any independent, upstanding ethical Director would do – he went with Option ‘B’ because in the UN; the best form of defence is attack, and when faced with evidence of wrongdoing by someone senior, the approved way of dealing with it is to turn the whole thing around and accuse the complainant of something that OIOS can investigate instead.
This is why any UN staff member would have to be either very brave or very stupid to report anything significant to OIOS…..
In fairness, Dan did try to hide the problem by recommending that I be placed on “administrative leave” immediately. That was exactly what Lapointe had wanted to do to me when he had made the complaint about the Graffitti-gate nonsense, but there are – unfortunately – some rules about this sort of thing!
Lapointe was unequivocal. She was not interested in anything other than terminating me immediately. Of course, she had endorsed the PIP and she had summarily dismissed my misconduct complaint just as she always protected all of Dudleyites, so if she was to admit that perhaps maybe there was just the merest hint of something suspicious here, the universe would unravel itself. Lapointe was quite unwilling to put Michael Dudley and his acolytes on administrative leave following the Nguyen-Kropp & Postica judgement in order to try to save the reputation of OIOS – but never let is be said that Carman Lapointe was dilatory in trying to get rid of me!
Still, sacking me just five months before my contract was due to expire was not such a good idea – especially as her grounds for doing so involved revisiting all manner of horror stories that OIOS wanted left alone. Oh dear. They needed to find another way of achieving the same thing; so Ethical Dan Wilson did exactly what I had suggested he could do: deflect attention away from the question about 496/11 by making a complaint about my asking questions about it.
He made a third party compaint of ‘harassment’ – on Dzuro’s behalf!
Dzuro had no problem running to complain that I had barked at him, or that I said ‘good morning’ to him in a rather threatening manner, or that I was walking in the corridor in such a way as to constitute “a possible assault” but when push comes to shove and OIOS wants to have somebody fired, they make a complaint on Dzuro’s behalf – presumably because he is too shy to do it himself.
I have repeatedly used the term ‘private gestapo’ and this is why. Contrary to what the UN wants anyone to think, the only real purpose of a misconduct investigation is to provide the excuse to take action when the outcome has already been decided. There is no more justice in the UN “justice system” than there are actual fairies in fairy cakes.
In my case, Lapointe put it in writing on 30 October 2014: “I also want him out immediately with pay in lieu of notice.”
Too scared to actually make that decision and stand up to the consequences however, they needed another approach, so Dan Wilson’s “harassment complaint” was a contrivance that was required in order to justify banishing me from the office. Given the fact that Lapointe had made her wishes quite clear, Ethical Dan must have known at the time that any “investigation” of this complaint was going to be a formality. There was never any question of it even being investigated.
The whole thing stinks.
The 496/11 investigation had been sabotaged by Roberta Baldini delaying it while she looked harder and harder for something she could use against me, and that was retaliation for my having complained about the PIP. That was so obvious that a blind man locked in a coal cellar at night could see it, but of course the UN wouldn’t admit that…..
Dan Wilson’s third party complaint was never going to be investigated. The only person going to suffer any consequences for any of it was going to be me. This is OIOS. The only thing anyone was interested in was protecting Baldini & Dzuro from anything I could throw at them. Nobody was interested in the evidence, they would hide behind the fiction of “proper procedure” and insist that I was 100% wrong, 100% of the time.
So I was presented with a choice; either I have to move to a desk one floor below, to work in a completely different department or I would have to work from home, because I was not permitted to come to the office.
OK, fair enough….. but my alleged ‘misconduct’ here involved sending an e-mail. How was moving me out of the office going to have any effect if I still had access to the e-mail system?
This, of course, is the sort of question that you are not supposed to ask…… because banishing me from the office made absolutely no difference to anything; it was nothing more than a “disguised disciplinary measure.”
But by this point, I had seen enough and no longer had much faith in any of the hypocrisy in the UN and the corruption in OIOS. I was quite happy to “work from home” – which as I pointed out, is not easy when the operating system on your laptop doesn’t allow you to log in to the office system – but what the hell; we were now into the winter, and the winters in New York can be a bit chilly. I had central heating at home…..
But wait, there’s more!
Not content with wanting me fired, and concocting reasons to banish me from the office (and not being willing or able to answer the questions I kept bringing up), Lapointe still wanted to put the boot in. She went back to the Department of Safety & Security alleging – again – that I represented some sort of threat to the safety of the office.
Now I had been through this fiasco once already with Baldini and Dzuro making complaints about “a possible assault”….. and that was exposed as a farce – albeit a very dangerous and malicious one.
If, as Baldini had alleged, I genuinely was some sort of armed and dangerous, mentally unstable potentially homocidal maniac on the loose; the UN had had an opportunity to investigate this and unsurprisingly it had gone absolutely nowhere. Indeed, you would think that if there was even a reasonable possibility of me being a an armed and dangerous, mentally unstable potentially homocidal maniac; the UN would have some obligation to do something about it!
The “possible assault” complaint against me was patently ridiculous, and said a lot more about the mental state of the complainants than it did about me. What I found particularly insulting however, was that I had been the subject of such a serious and defamatory complaint and the Organization would not even respond to my attorney asking for more details about what I was alleged to have done.
Now Lapointe was coming back for a second bite!
I got a call from the same DSS Sergeant as I had spoken to last time and I assured him I’d be more than happy to see him! Unfortunately however, we were denied the fun and games that might have followed because I never heard back from them; probably because even the slowest DSS Security Officer is smart enough not to kick a fresh cow pat on a warm day….
Lapointe’s reaction to this was interesting. I am not a psychologist so I am patently not qualified to comment on paranoia, but Ethical Dan and Lapointe agreed that I was “playing games” here. The only games I was playing were a few frames of Sodoku and maybe Scrabble in the evenings. I had been the subject of a series of petty complaints for over 18 months, and that was perfectly OK, but when I am clearly not afraid of this harrassment; I am “playing games”.
What she was more afraid of was that I might make “false accusations”….
False allegations? Where did THAT come from? Why would I resort to making false accusations??? I was doing well enough with the TRUTH, and throwing FACTS at her; everything I ever raised was backed up by documentary evidence, and she was doing very well ignoring all of it.
When had I ever made an allegation that was not based on a reality? I wish someone would tell me, because I am curious. I will also apologize straight away.
This, sadly, is OIOS at its best; unsatisfied with not being able to fire me for pointing out more incompetence and misconduct that you could shake a stick at – the Under-Secretary-General was now worried that I might break with the habit of a lifetime and suddenly make “false allegations”….
Why stop at worrying about that? Countless hours could be wasted worrying about whether I might pee through the letter box one night, or buy a box of matches and burn the office building down, or claim that someone stole a gold watch that I never had. Why stop there? Why not worry that I find some website that supposedly shows you how to build an atomic bomb…. so then she could worry that I could order some plutonium on eBay and might build one.
This may come as a shock to many people in OIOS, but the basis of discipinary action is that it must be predicated on what someone has done – not what they might do. We are not quite at the stage of taking action against futurecrime just yet, though it appears that the UN would perhaps like to be ahead of the curve on that one…..
Still, it shows there is absolutely no limit to what senior UN officials are prepared to come out with. I had only ever set out to defend myself from an attempt to destroy a professional reputation that had taken me 25 years to build. As far as the UN was concerned; it did not matter that Baldini and Dzuro could not answer a single question to show what I had done to warrant their attempt to impose that PIP; I was 100% wrong 100% of the time.
It did not matter that OIOS was riddled with incompetence and corruption.
As far as the UN was concerned, my professional reputation could be used as a common urinal without any cause whatsoever, and that did not matter.
It did not matter that when I reported misconduct by someone else, it could just be ignored, but when somebody else reported me; that was taken seriously. It did not matter that I could be the subject of a stream of petty complaints without that being considered retaliation. It did not matter that I could be investigated for “harassment” for pointing out (to no one) something that was a finding of fact in a UNDT judgement that had been reported in the newspapers worldwide because that was misconduct, and it did not matter that Michael Dudley had interfered with evidence in an investigation.
It did not even matter that I could be accused of probably the single most serious thing that anyone in the US could be accused of; that I assaulted co-workers and might bring a gun to the office; those false accusations were perfectly acceptable. In fact they were so acceptable that the Under-Secretary-General would go back a second time to accuse me of being some kind of threat to workplace security – because I challenge the actions of corrupt staff in her department. It was not enough that my professional reputation could be destroyed; the UN was determined that it would be destroyed – but when I ask to be shown what I have done wrong; nobody is able to answer….
So consider the question of the day; why would any UN staff member be so stupid as to report fraud waste or abuse? Based on my experience, both personal and professional – I think they would clearly have to be very brave or very stupid to do so, because retaliation is not just possible in the UN, it is inevitable.
Then – for a bonus point – answer me another question; If I am wrong; why was the UN so desperate not to give me an opportunity to challenge any of these decisions in the UNDT? None of those applications were really “legal” questions; they were basic management questions that nobody was even willing to discuss with me.
I now talk to the press when they call and I will talk to any Member States who care to buy me lunch and ask me questions…… If I am making any false accusations; why doesn’t the UN just sue me for defamation?
And in case anyone thinks this couldn’t get any worse….. hold on…. because it does!
More to come.
Oh yes…. lots more… and it just keeps getting worse…