U.N. Official Steals: Afghan Women Reporting from Kabul

The United Nations has all manner of crooks inside it’s 40-story, blue-tinted glass walls, and not surprisingly, some are Americans.

United Nations Building – New York City

An American, ex-U.N. official, is accused of stealing from funds allocated for Afghanistan’s roads, schools and clinics. The former U.N. official, Gary K Helseth, diverted “hundreds of thousands of dollars from the “Development Funds” into his own bank account – or as Hot Air says, “into his favorite charity – himself.”

Helseth is charged with stealing $65,000 in cash from a U.N. safe.

The task force said Helseth instructed a subordinate to take $65,000 in cash for him from a U.N. safe and fabricated a bogus lease indicating the money was paid to the property’s landlord.

Helseth said the money was reimbursement for a personal investment in the home renovation, which he said benefited the United Nations.

He allegedly paid rent, paid for home renovations, opulent parties at his Kabul home “where guests dined on Beluga caviar, Norwegian salmon and foie gras.” There was $7,500 for Ethopian furniture, $10,000 for silk Afghan carpets and $2,200 for floral arrangements.” He funneled $20,000 FROM a U.S. program to build women’s dormitories at the Kabul University – INTO renovating his Kabul home. The expense for sports equipment? $66,000, and there was $30,000 for a new Lexus.

Mr. Helseth apparently did some good things with the monies at his disposal, but…

…the operation was plagued by “record keeping [that] did not comply with even the most basic standards of international financial accounting,” the task force said. By 2005, Helseth’s office was distributing more than $1 million a day in cash,,,

A 180-page report suggests that the U.N. refer the case to U.S. and Afghan authorities for criminal prosecution. The reports says that Helseth should repay approximately $480,000.

Read more in a report from Kabul published in RAWA, a publication of The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.

On the RAWA ‘About Us’ page, I found the following statement:

The US “War on terrorism” removed the Taliban regime in October 2001, but it has not removed religious fundamentalism which is the main cause of all our miseries. In fact, by reinstalling the warlords in power in Afghanistan, the US administration is replacing one fundamentalist regime with another. The US government and Mr.Karzai mostly rely on Northern Alliance criminal leaders who are as brutal and misogynist as the Taliban.

RAWA believes that freedom and democracy can’t be donated; it is the duty of the people of a country to fight and achieve these values. Under the US-supported government, the sworn enemies of human rights, democracy and secularism have gripped their claws over our country and attempt to restore their religious fascism on our people.

Whenever fundamentalists exist as a military and political force in our injured land, the problem of Afghanistan will not be solved. Today RAWA’s mission for women’s rights is far from over and we have to work hard for establishment of an independent, free, democratic and secular Afghanistan. We need the solidarity and support of all people around the world.

Today, President Barack Obama announced his new plan for Afghanistan, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. RAWA recently reported on how the Taliban Grabs Share of Reconstruction Aid. Here’s a snippet:

Mirahmad has a very important job to do: he is the mirab, or water regulator, in his native Pushtrod district of Farah province. It is Mirahmad who ensures that the villages under his control receive adequate water for their fields.

When the state-sponsored National Solidarity Programme, NSP, gave Pushtrod 200,000 afghani (40,000 US dollars) to clean out the Nawbahar canal irrigation canal, he was overjoyed.

“But then the Taliban asked for 40 per cent of the money,” he told IWPR. “Otherwise they were not going to let us do the work. So we had to buy them a four-by-four.”

While the Taliban drive around in their new vehicle, Mirahmad is trying desperately to stretch the remaining funds to complete the project.

Prevention is the best protection against have one’s money stolen. I would like to see the “overseers” (the management) over how the money to be spent, brought to court also. Next in importance after “prevention” being the best policy” comes the law of “if you do the crime you will do the time.” Harsh court policies for thieves work if they are just applied.