New UN Secretary-General Discloses Personal Finances

11 May 2002


The new Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has disclosed his personal financial statement, the first United Nations Secretary-General to do so.

Ban’s statement was made public Jan. 26, and indicates that his net wealth is between $1,210,000 and $2,500,000. The range results from the construction of the disclosure form. For example, his apartment is Seoul is valued at between $500,000 and $1,000,000, as is a residential lot he owns in Seoul. A non-residential lot in Kyonggi Province is valued at between $100,000 and $250,000. These properties are his three major assets. Ban also noted three checking and savings accounts, with a total value of between $110,000 and $250,000.

The form also indicates that a daughter and son-in-law are employed in the UNICEF office in Nairobi, Kenya.

The statement for 2006 was reviewed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the firm hired by the UN as a consultant to review financial disclosure statements, which “determined that no action is required of him with respect to his compliance with the requirements of the financial disclosure programme,” according to a statement accompanying the release.

The full statement is available at: http://www.un.org/sg/SG_fd_form.pdf


22 JANUARY 2007
New UN Secretary-General Ban to Disclose Personal Finances — Few Other International Leaders Do So

The new Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has decided to disclose his personal financial statement, a first for a United Nations Secretary-General and a rare occurrence among leaders of other multinational organizations.

Ban’s financial disclosure form is currently under review by the UN Ethics Office and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the UN’s new contractor charged with administering the UN Financial Disclosure Programme.

“Upon completion of the review, the Secretary-General has also decided to publicly disclose the statement,” according to a Jan. 3 statement by Michele Montas, Ban’s spokesperson, who said Ban intends to declare everything.

Other UN officials will not be compelled to release their disclosure statements, Montas said. The release states that “he encouraged them to be as transparent as possible and volunteer information although they would not be compelled to do so.” Some 2,000 UN officials are covered by the 1999 financial disclosure policy that was revised in May 2006. Ban’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, submitted a disclosure statement, but declined to make it public. Under the policy, the disclosure forms, which the UN noted are more comprehensive than those of the United States Congress, are treated as confidential.

The announcement of Ban’s intentions came on the same day that the UN revealed that PricewaterhouseCoopers won a competitive bidding process to assist in the administration of the disclosure program. In addition to reviewing the forms submitted, the accounting firm will identify any actual or potential conflicts of interest and work with UN staff to resolve them.

John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the UN, praised Ban’s move in an article in The Washington Post Jan. 14 as a “good first step” toward restoring trust and confidence in the institution. Bolton observed that as a long-time civil servant in Korea, Ban “is likely to offer a short and boring financial report.” Bolton also urged Annan to release his “UN-era finances.”

Few Leaders of Other International Bodies Disclose Finances

Although most other international organizations have policies to protect against conflict of interest, very few require disclosure of personal financial information.

One that does is the European Investment Bank, where the Web site contains some basic information on the financial holdings of a few members of the board of directors. EIB Chairman Philippe Maystadt, for example, has 225 shares in BEFIMMO worth 16,402 euros, and a home in Vieusrat, Belgium. Five of the eight vice chairs of the board of directors have made public similar information. None of the other members of the board of directors appear to have followed suit.

However, such disclosures are unusual, according to a check by freedominfo.org. No public financial disclosures are required of, or made, by the top officials at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, or the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Officials at these places, and other knowledgeable sources, were unable to point to public disclosures being made at any other international bodies.

Most international financial institutions do now require some form of internal financial disclosure, as does the UN.

At the EBRD, for example, a new system was adopted in May 2006, and for the first time there are two policies, one for professional staff, and another for directors. In revising a policy set in 1991, the EBRD moved from covering about a dozen top staffers to requiring disclosures from 196 persons. Members of the board of directors, who previously had to affirm they were in compliance with conflict of interest standards, now must file a disclosure form that covers themselves, their spouses, and their children. These forms, however, will remain confidential.

By Toby McIntosh

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ABOUT IFTI WATCH

In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
Contact: freeinfo@gwu.edu or
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