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Originally published January 27 2011

Audit reveals widespread corruption in Global Fund

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Investigators working on behalf of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a United Nations (UN) alternative funding organization, have found that much of the group's $21.7 billion development fund has been lost to corruption. The celebrity-endorsed financing institution's inspector general's office found that in some countries, up to two-thirds of grant money has been misappropriated or stolen.

The office has only audited a small portion of the $10 billion that has been distributed since 2002, but what it has found thus far is shocking. In Djibouti, for instance, 30 percent of grant money could not be accounted for or was misused. Thirty-six percent of funds provided to Mali to fight tuberculosis and malaria were misspent. And an astounding 67 percent of anti-AIDS money given to Mauritania was lost to fraud.

Global Fund spokesman Jon Liden stated in response to the findings that his organization does "not have any corruption problems that are significantly different in scale or nature to any other international financing institution," but such a statement is hardly a valid excuse for multiple millions of taxpayer and donor dollars simply disappearing without consequence.

The Global Fund says it is ramping up efforts to better manage its funds and keep a closer watch on how the money is spent. But these good intentions cannot recover the loss of $3.5 million in Zambia, for instance, or the millions of dollars worth of malaria drugs that were stolen and resold on the black market.

Many of the nations that regularly donate to the global fund are now reconsidering, including Sweden which has decided to suspend its $85 million annual donation until the situation is under control.

Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman Peter Larsson is quoted in a Time article saying that his nation is concerned about the "extensive examples of irregularities and corruption that the fund has uncovered." He added that his country wants to be sure the funds are actually contributing to improved health, and not just to corruption, before contributing any more money to it.

Major supporters of the Global Fund include U2's Bono, former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan, and Bill and Melinda Gates.

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