Dutch freeze some funding to UN energy programme over Russian corruption fears

The UN headquarters. Photo: Depositphotos
The UN headquarters. Photo: Depositphotos

The Netherlands has reduced its contributions to the UN’s development programme because of concerns about possible corruption relating to an energy project in Russia.

Trouw and Investico reported on Thursday that the Netherlands had frozen €10m of its €30m annual contribution to the fund.

The paper and Investico say contracts for the €40m project, to stimulate energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases, were going to friends and family members of Russian nationals charged with spending the money, and that the UN was aware of the problem.

The scandal was first revealed in an investigation by website Foreign Policy in 2019 and again by the Financial Times in 2020.

A spokesman for foreign trade minister Sigrid Kaag said that the ministry first became aware of the issue in 2018 and that the Netherlands, together with 11 other countries, called on the UN to carry out an independent review.

By the end of last November, when nothing significant had been done, she decided to freeze payments, the spokesman said.

A short while later, the UNDP went public with the results of its research and admitted there were problems with the Russian contracts.

Kaag is still talking with both the UNDP and other donor countries about releasing the money, broadcaster NOS said.

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