Wednesday April 23, 2014

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Multibillion-dollar Global Fund fires internal watchdog whose office found financial losses

GENEVA - The board of a $23 billion health fund trying to restore its image fired its top internal watchdog, whose office has been uncovering financial losses.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said in a statement Thursday that its board had terminated the employment of Inspector General John Parsons "after a careful review of his performance, which was found to be unsatisfactory." It said this was based on performance and independent peer reviews and a report by the board committee that oversees Parsons' office.

The board said it would soon name an interim inspector-general and expects to find a permanent replacement within six months.

The fund also is selecting a new executive director Thursday from among four finalists. The previous director resigned because of a review panel that the fund created after Associated Press articles last year about financial losses. The articles led some donors to withhold funding, and the fund scaled back spending.

Those losses were uncovered by the office that Parsons had headed since 2007. The office — whose teams of auditors and investigators are supposed to function independently — was created in 2005 at the urging of the fund's biggest donor, the United States.

Before joining the Global Fund, Parsons, a British citizen, had gained more than 35 years of experience in audits, investigations and evaluations and had served as a director at U.N. agencies UNESCO and UNICEF. He headed Britain's National Audit Office from 1989 to 1996.

Parsons could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.


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