NEW YORK, 13 April 2012 – UNICEF said today that in 2010 its internal financial oversight system uncovered irregularities in a school rehabilitation project in northwestern Pakistan.
UNICEF immediately froze funds to the project and launched a series of investigations. The investigations revealed that an estimated US$4 million was lost when funds were misappropriated through over-billing for sub-standard repairs.
The investigation did not establish that UNICEF staff knowingly contributed to or benefitted from the losses. The investigation did conclude that UNICEF was defrauded by others involved in overall project implementation but was not able to establish definitely who those other parties were.
Following the detection of the irregularities, additional safeguards were put in place to strengthen financial controls and oversight there.
The project to rehabilitate schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was undertaken in 2009 and 2010 during a volatile time of high insecurity and large-scale displacement of people in the province. Providing assistance for children in these kinds of environments involves risks, but UNICEF has zero tolerance for fraud.
UNICEF has informed the relevant Government authorities in Pakistan and donor governments of the irregularities and is looking into any possible recovery of the misappropriated funds. UNICEF continues to work with local authorities to provide children with access to education and other basic services.
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For more information, please contact:
Peter Smerdon, UNICEF New York,
Mobile: +1 917 213 5188,
Marixie Mercado, UNICEF Geneva,
Mobile: + 4179 756 7703,