Outgoing Comptroller Accuses Ban Ki-moon of Thwarting War on Corruption at UN

In a 50-page document, the official responsible for fighting corruption in the organization levied unprecedented accusations at Ban Ki-moon for undermining her efforts.

A Swedish diplomat who recently quit her post as Undersecretary-General and Comptroller of the United Nations has launched accusations unprecedented in their severity against Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a memorandum that was leaked on Tuesday to the Washington Post.

The 50-page memo, which was circulated to only 9 persons, was authored by Inga Britt-Ahlenius, who recently completed her five-year term at the United Nations.

Outgoing UN Internal Oversight Head Inga Britt-Ahlenius
AP / Mark Garten

Britt-Ahlenius, a well-known figure in the hallways of the United Nations building, wrote in the memo that the secretary-general – who is currently in Kabul for an international conference about the future of Afghanistan – "undermined and sabotaged the responsibilities and independence that were granted to her office" as the senior official responsible for the war on corruption in the organization.

"Your action is without precedent," wrote the former comptroller, "Your actions are… reprehensible…and in my opinion seriously embarrassing for yourself."

The senior diplomat did not restrict herself to politically correct language in her complaints against Ban: "I regret to say that the [UN] Secretariat now is in a process of decay. It is not only falling apart.… It is drifting into irrelevance."

Britt-Ahlenius continued, "There is lack of transparency, there is lack of accountability. Rather than supporting the internal oversight which is the sign of strong leadership and good governance, you have strived to control it which is to undermine its position."

Ever since the secretariat of the organization was blamed for the financial scandal surrounding the Oil for Food program, which was revealed a decade ago and was the reason that the previous Secretary-General Kofi Annan did not pursue a second term, there have not been such serious accusations against the secretary-general of the organization, the likes of which appear in the memorandum that was leaked Tuesday.

The memo is especially embarrassing for Ban, who took office in 2007 as someone who would "clean house" and improve the image of the organization, which was seriously harmed in the wake of the revelations of the extent of the corruption that occurred as part of the Oil for Food program.

Behind the scenes and in private conversations, the current secretary-general is the target of much criticism by senior diplomats and veteran commentators. Ban, who previously served as the foreign minister of his native country South Korea, is accused of having surrounded himself with advisers who don't dare contradict him.

Ban also made a number of blunders with world powers, and it is widely known that many in the UN are unsatisfied with his work habits and with his responses to regional crises.

The Washington Post, however, also quoted senior officials in the UN Secretariat who stated that the accusations put forth by Britt-Ahlenius are not balanced and that her criticism is unfair.