BREAKING: My immediate thoughts on the forced departure of the disgraced @UNOPS @UNOPS_Chief Grete Faremo. What happens next is most crucial and the story is not finished @antonioguterres @UN https://t.co/kSggJ8Bh0G
— Mukesh Kapila (@mukeshkapila) May 8, 2022
— Peter Thomson (@ThomsonFiji) June 21, 2014
‘Funds are at risk’
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres’ office said it accepted Faremo’s resignation and appointed Denmark’s Jens Wandel, a U.N. career diplomat and special adviser for reforms, to serve as UNOPS’ acting executive director while Guterres and the UNOPS executive board search for a permament replacement. “He will be granted all the necessary support to ensure a smooth transition,” Guterres’ office told reporters.
UNOPS acknowledged in April, in response to news reports, there have been “significant challenges” with the Sustainable Infrastructure Investments and Innovation Initiative and eight investments totaling US$63 million, but said it is “committed to a rigorous and comprehensive process to address any possible misconduct and maladministration claims and will hold all persons responsible to account.”
It said the S3i initiative is separate from UNOPS’ regular project activities. “S3i funds are at risk, but to date, no funds have been lost, and UNOPS will pursue all available legal remedies to protect its operations and assets, including the recovery of outstanding payments owed to UNOPS,” the agency added.
The controversy revolves around a series of tens of millions of dollars in loans that UNOPS made to a main S3i contractor, Singapore-based Sustainable Housing Solutions Holdings, or SHS Holdings, that were meant for planning to build more than 1 million affordable homes in developing nations. The audit investigation is focused on S3i’s chief executive Vitaly Vanshelboim, a U.N. career official from Ukraine who oversaw UNOPS’ lending to SHS Holdings.
The eight investments were supposed to be used to build homes in the Caribbean, Ghana, Guinea, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.