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Somalia gov’t: Audit faults UN corruption claims

September 6, 2013

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Somalia’s government said Friday investigators it hired have cleared it of the allegations of massive corruption in a report by United Nations experts monitoring sanctions on Somalia and Eritrea.

President Hassan Sheik Mohamud said forensic accountants from FTI Consulting, Inc. and a legal team from the US firm Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, PA found that the methodology and conclusions in Annex 5.2 of the report were “deeply flawed and entirely unreliable.” A statement from the president’s office said that the allegations also predate Mohamud’s time in office.

“As President, it was my responsibility to take seriously the allegations and to direct a thorough assessment of them,” he said. “I am pleased that the investigative team concluded that these allegations were unfounded,” Mohamud said.

In their report the auditors recommend among others that the section of the U.N. monitoring panel report carrying allegations of corruption should be removed. The firms also ask the Security Council to issue a public admonishment to the panel for its failure to adhere to and apply fact finding stands set in by the U.N.

The firms also recommended that the U.N. reimburse the Somali government the costs it incurred for the investigations which were caused by the “unsupportable narrative produced by the monitoring group.”

The investigators said that Somalia should upgrade its internal controls and financial reporting systems because the systems are not up to date due to the prolonged conflict and crisis in the country.

Somalia had not had a functioning central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a longtime dictator and turned on each other, plunging the impoverished East African nation into chaos. But since African Union forces ousted the Islamic extremist rebels of al-Shabab from all the major towns last year, a relative peace has returned, creating a new sense of hope and opportunity in the country.

Last year, a new interim constitution was approved, a new parliament was seated, a new president was elected and a new government and Cabinet started work, replacing a weak and largely ineffective transitional government that had been accused of widespread corruption.

The U.N. report, released in July, said the election of Mohamud “presented an opportunity for a new kind of leadership in the country,” but he inherited a system in which he controls neither the flow of money nor security institutions.

While struggling to extend the government’s reach, the panel said the president has had to seek external funds and arrange security relations inside and outside of government.

The U.N. report said that 80 percent of withdrawals from Somalia’s Central Bank are made for private purposes, indicating it is operating as a patronage system for members of government.

President Mohamud said among the monitoring panel’s flawed findings were that criticism of Somali Central Bank Governor Abdusalam Omer’s stewardship of the Bank was entirely unwarranted. The investigation concluded that the Central Bank applied appropriate internal controls when dispersing government funds, he said.

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