House Foreign Affairs Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman
CONTACT: Brad Goehner and Andeliz Castillo, (202) 225-5021, April 29, 2011Alex Cruz (South Florida press), (202) 225-8200
For IMMEDIATE Release
Ros-Lehtinen Warns of ‘Bucks for Bashar’ Scandal, Calls for End to UN Development Program Aid for Syria
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented on the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) proposed 5-year, $38 million aid plan for Syria. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“Given UNDP’s track record of mismanagement, malfeasance, and diversion of funds in Afghanistan, Burma, and North Korea, I am deeply concerned that UNDP assistance to Syria could end up benefitting the Syrian regime. We’ve already had the ‘Cash for Kim’ scandal in North Korea. This aid plan must be terminated to avoid any potential ‘Bucks for Bashar’ scandal in Syria.
“UNDP’s proposed aid package for Syria is premised on the false belief that the murderous dictatorship in Damascus can be a legitimate partner for democratic governance, economic growth, and development. The program proposal itself notes that UNDP will ‘continue to work closely with the government of Syria,’ even as the world witnesses the regime’s escalation of violence and repression against the Syrian people.
“Other UN agencies have also engaged in questionable dealings with the regime. For example, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency banks with the regime-controlled Commercial Bank of Syria, which has been designated under U.S. law for terror financing and money laundering.
“UNDP simply cannot be trusted to behave in a transparent, accountable manner, particularly when it operates in areas governed by rogue regimes. As such, U.S. taxpayer funds must not be contributed to UNDP.”