Thursday, May 05, 2005

U.N. confirms appointment of Swedish former official as chief of U.N. internal watchdog

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday confirmed the appointment of Inga-Britt Ahlenius, the former auditor-general of Sweden as the new chief of the U.N. internal watchdog agency. Ahlenius will serve as undersecretary-general for Internal Oversight Services for a five-year term. The start of her appointment is not yet known.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan nominated Ahlenius last month. She is the current auditor-general for Kosovo and previously served in the same role in her native Sweden.

Ahlenius was a member of the Committee of Independent Experts mandated by the European Parliament to investigate the handling by the European Commission of allegations of fraud, mismanagement and nepotism.

The experts' report led to the resignation of the Commission in 1999.

Ahlenius replaces Dileep Nair, who is being investigated for alleged favoritism and for wrongdoing in the oil-for-food program.

Nair denies allegations that he traded jobs for personal favors. He also faces separate allegations of misconduct stemming from a recent report by an independent committee led by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker that is probing the now-defunct oil-for-food program in Iraq.

Volcker's committee found that Nair had paid an OIOS employee with money from the US$64 billion (euro48.5 billion) program even though the employee's work was not directly related to it.

Nair denied the allegations, claiming he had approval for the hiring from the U.N. controller, but Annan's chief of staff, Mark Malloch Brown, has said Nair would be disciplined.

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