On 4 January this year, the Korean press were reporting that former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was moving out of his official residence and had shipped his belongings back to Seoul. He had been scheduled to deliver a speech at Harvard University on 12 January, but cancelled it in order to get back to South Korea as quickly as possible.
Like his travel plans, Ban’s ambition for presidency has been an open secret in South Korea as well as in the UN for many months, and that has generally been accepted as the excuse for his haste in leaving the United States. Unfortunately, on his very last day in New York, he was somewhat embarrassed when US Federal authorities announced criminal charges against his brother and nephew.
What is not known, of course, is whether Ban brought his departure forward to try to skip town before his brother was charged, or whether the US District Attorney knew he was leaving and brought the charges forward as a parting gift – but his brother, Ban Ki Sang, and his nephew Dennis Bahn have been charged with foreign bribery offences under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, money laundering, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
Ban has claimed not to know anything about this, but then again, he spent ten years as Secretary-General and claimed never to know about anything that was “inconvenient.” He did not know about procurement fraud, he did not know about retaliation against whistleblowers, he did not know about child sex abuse and he did not know about the President of the General Assembly taking bribes either.
This impressive ignorance was indulged and facilitated by a press corps that was as obsequious as it was myopic, and who reported UN Press Briefings rather than the actual news – but the exception to that rule, InnerCityPress.com – has incurred the wrath of the UN by not only drawing attention to the UN’s many and various scandals, but by repeatedly asking questions about Dennis Bahn’s questionable business activities.
If Ban Ki Moon genuinely did not know what his brother and his nephew were up to, it was because he went out of his way not to know. This is called ‘wilful blindness’ – and it fools no-one.
On this occasion however, there is no excuse because Ban Ki Moon was asked questions about his relative who was working for a company that was the landlord of a building in New York occupied by a UN agency. If he was not concerned about his relationship with his nephew, he should have been concerned that the UN was not over-paying for thr property. For the Secretary-General to claim to know nothing is an abdication of his duty as the Chief Executive Officer of the Organization.
Ban Ki Moon had accepted free flights in a private jet paid for by the ruler of Qatar. It cannot be a coincidence that Qatar was supposed to be the source of the money to be invested in the construction project in Vietnam that the nephew was trying to finance, or that Ban Ki Moon visited Vietnam after that particular scandal started to unravel.
InnerCityPress also asked awkward questions about the former Secretary-General’s brother Ban Ki-ho being granted a mining concession in Myanmar, which happened, oddly enough, after visiting the country as part of a UN delegation.
InnerCityPress also touched a raw nerve in the UN by asking awkward questions about Ban Ki Moon’s involvement with John Ashe, the UN diplomat arrested for bribery offences in October 2015.
Ban’s strategy was simple; he simply refuses to answer awkward questions, the UN press corps play their part by never asking them, and together they exploit the fact that there are 17 acres of Manhattan Island where the First Amendment of the US Constitution simply does not apply, allowing the UN to throw a journalist out into the street in order to prevent him reporting news.
He also controlled the supposedly “independent” office that is supposed to investigate fraud and corruption in the UN, so neither he nor any of his senior staff need ever worry about being confronted with evidence of their own malfeasance.
Now Ban has rushed back to Seoul to run for President where, should he be elected, he will doubtless continue with his strategy of claiming not to know anything about what his relatives may or may not be involved in.
The smart money is already betting that he will not know about any of his relatives plans to grab a piece of the US Army Yongsan Garrison in Seoul that is due to be turned over to land developers in two years time. After all, if Ban Ki Moon’s ten year tenure at the UN is any indication of his style of ‘leadership’ – it appears to involve knowing immediately what he would claim not to know about if ever asked in the future.