15 NOVEMBER 2014
|NEW U.N. BUDGET CONTROLLER APPOINTED. ANY LINK TO U.N. STAFF
A growing number of concerned U.N. retired staff and those who are about to retire are observing recent appointments by the Secretary-General
in the financial area very carefully. Those familiar with early attempts to divert the Staff Pension Fund are putting one and two together to
wonder whether a tighter grip is being gradually built around the decision-making process of dealing with the prized Fund.
A new Controller appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Ms. Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas, has impeccable credentials. The only question
raised was about the extent to which the new Budget Director, appointed at the Assistant Secretary-General level, will have to do with the
issues relating to the U.N. Staff Pension Fund. By now, there is so much suspicion among retired staff that any move in that domain, especially in
the Office of Programme Planning Budget Accounts would -- perhaps in an exaggerated form -- raise questions. Most retirees, if not all, are
completely dependent on their pension fund for sheer survival. Ms. Tucci Bartsiotas, who was born in Uruguay, is a United States national who
replaced Maria Eugenia Casar, who was moved to an Associate Administrator post in the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP). There is no doubt about
Ms. Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas' credentials. She had served as Director of Budget and Chief Financial Officer at the International Atomic Energy
Agency, IAEA, and before that in the Division of Financial and Administrative Management of UNICEF. She also worked at the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC, where she met her future husband, George Bartsiotas, who by the
way, happens to be an effective member of the U.N. Joint Inspection Unit, ably representing the United States. By co-incidence, the name of Mr.
Bartsiotas, was subjected to an unrelated digital ploy when it was used in April, 2014 in a fake circulated scam using his name under the
title: "Good News, You Can Now Receive Your Abandoned Funds". It used his title, adding that he was" auditor-general "to various U.N.
organizations. The scam continues, saying "During my investigation I discovered funds that have been received by past directors, but due to my
new position now as the new Director I have discovered and confirmed that it will be released to you now, because this is the best time to
accomplish this transaction. The funds can be released to you anywhere of your choice in the world." Of course like other scams, it sought to
obtain "your name, an official document from an affiliated office. If you receive this fund, do not hesitate to contact my office. The fund is
genuinely risk-free because I am here to guide and help you as I help many people. I will also give you information on the people that I have
helped in different places." In fact, Mr. Bartsiotas, is a highly regarded civil servant in his field who worked in several operations, both in
Washington D.C., Vienna and elsewhere, handling issues related to Kosovo and the Balkans.
Still, the concern raised by some retired staff, particularly prompted by the designation of Ms. Boykin as Special Advisor on the Pension
Fund, requires attention. Some sort of assurance by the Secretary-General and his new financial team that no new drastic risky changes will be
applied to the Fund, which will remain as safe, protected and productive as always, could clear the air.
Sometimes one word of assurance is worth a thousand words of controversy later.