Global Fund pledges 'zero tolerance' in corruption cases

24th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

The head of the Global Fund Against AIDS, TB and Malaria on Monday pledged "zero tolerance" for corruption following reports that it was dealing with cases that had prompted donor nation Sweden's concern.

"The global fund has zero tolerance for corruption and actively seeks to uncover any evidence of misuse of its funds," said Michel Kazatchkine, the Fund's executive director, underlining that its anti-fraud controls were "most rigorous".

Kazatchkine said the cases of corruption reported in the media over the weekend were not new and had already been revealed by the Fund last year on its website, and acted on.

They involved "grave misuse" of about 34 million dollars for projects in Djibouti, Mali, Mauritania and Zambia that had gone missing in the four African countries, he explained.

Kazatchkine said the Fund had recovered 19 million dollars so far.

The Fund revealed last June that it had suspended aid to Zambia pending action by local authorities on fraud.

Kazatchkine said Monday that criminal proceedings were underway there as well as in Mali and Mauritania, but he did not mention Djibouti.

A top prosecutor in Mali said in September that several health ministry officials had been arrested during a probe into embezzlement from the Fund.

The Fund has imposed additional restrictions on cash transfers, while the safeguards were also in place for Ivory Coast and Papua New Guinea.

A Swedish newspaper reported on Saturday that Sweden had told Kazatchkine that it would not commit to its 167 million euro contribution to the fund unless more was done to ensure that cash is not siphoned off.

"Sweden did not say that it would withdraw," Kazatchkine told journalists.

"On the contrary I came back Friday evening from Stockholm with the statement that Sweden would contribute and would increase its constributions to the Fund," he added.

The UN-backed agency provides grants for selected projects against the three diseases in poor nations, allocating money provided by governments and private donors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"In his report last year, the Global Fund inspector general listed grave misused of funds in four of the 145 countries which receive grants from the Global Fund," Kazatchkine said.

"In total the Global Fund is demanding the recovery of US 34 millions dollars unaccounted in these countries out of a total disbursement of 13 billion dollars."

© 2011 AFP

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