For Immediate Release: September 18, 2009
Contact: Nikolaos Taneris, New York, Tel. 1-917-699-9935
NEW YORK—Alexander Downer, UN Envoy to Cyprus, apparently has a business
relationship with BESPOKE APPROACH (a business consultancy that does business
with Turkey), an interview with Downer by Inner City Press has been circulated
and is reproduced below from the Inner City Press website, and on Freedom4Cyprus
blog, the interview today also made its way to the website of the Cypriot
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
*Inner City Press last year reported on the Cyprus Action Network of America
(CANA) RALLY FOR THE HELLENIC HUMAN RIGHTS IN FYROM in front of the US Mission
to the UN in New York City,
“Several participants told Inner City Press that behind the demonstration was
the exposure last week of the US State Department's communications with FYROM
and even UN "name issue" envoy Matthew Nimmitz. "The UN shouldn't take its
instructions from the US," one of them said. But on this and some other issues,
MORE REVELATIONS RE ALEXANDER DOWNER POSTED AT THE FOLLOWING WEBSITE.
Friday, 18 September 2009 http://www.freedom4cyprus.blogspot.com/
Downer is promoting business interests in Cyprus. Mixed up in so many scandals!
His UN envoy job is just something he does PART TIME!
UN Cyprus Envoy Downer Brags of Asia Business, Says No Conflict But What
By Matthew Russell Lee Inner City Press
UNITED NATIONS, September 17 -- Former Australian foreign minister Alexander
Downer, now working for the business consultancy Bespoke Approach and part time
for the UN on Cyprus , was again asked Thursday by Inner City Press if the two
roles might conflict, and what safeguards the UN has in place.
Mr. Downer said most of his work with Bespoke Approach is in East Asia, with
Indonesia and China . He said that because he was foreign minister of Australia
for twelve years, he has good relations with China , "better than many people I
know." Some thought this sounded like a form of advertisement, as did Downer's
statement that he was asked about Cyprus during a dinner with Indonesia 's
Foreign Minister a few weeks ago.
Downer said that he does no work with Cyprus , Turkey or Greece , and by this
appeared to mean he does not negotiate contracts in the three, not that Bespoke
Approach does not have business relations with enterprises active there.
Inner City Press asked about an initiative in Australia to ban former minister
from serving as lobbyists for two years. While Downer said this must have been
passed only yesterday, since he'd never heard of it, from the audience in the
briefing room Australian parliamentarian Paul Neville clarified that Queensland
and New South Wales are moving on such a ban.
Mr. Neville added that working for the UN wouldn't be considered lobbying. But
what about working for Bespoke Approach?
Downer, last time at UN, questions multiply
Downer's connection in this regard was listed in a recent story about the ban on
lobbying for two years:
"The State Government will restrict the activities of political lobbyists to
guard against corruption, cronyism and conflicts of interest. In London last
night, Premier Mike Rann announced a ban on former ministers acting as lobbyists
for two years after leaving Parliament. Lobbyists will be listed on a public
register from which they could be struck off if they breach rules governing
integrity, honesty and ethics...
PUSHING THEIR BARROW
KEY SOUTH AUSTRALIAN LOBBYISTS AND THEIR CLIENTS
Former Liberal minister Alexander Downer
Former Labor senator Nick Bolkus
Former Liberal staffer Ian Smith
Clients include: Minmetals Australia ,
Clarke Energy, Forbes Oil & Gas,
Yanzhou Coal Mining Company Limited,
Earlier this year, the Australian reported
"Former Labor senator Nick Bolkus was paid a reported sum of $136,500 to lobby
the Rann Government on behalf of the beleaguered South Australian Jockey Club, a
board member says. SAJC director Bill Spear, who brought legal action last
November against the state's biggest gallops club that resulted in its chief
executive being sacked, yesterday raised further questions about the board's
conduct... Mr Spear had earlier confirmed that during the past two months, while
the board and the SAJC's now-sacked chief executive Steve Ploubidis were the
subject of an independent inquiry over vote-rigging and alleged corruption, two
payments each of about $68,000 were made to Mr Bolkus for lobbying on behalf of
the club. Mr Ploubidis denies the allegations. Mr Spear said payments in excess
of $10,000 had required board approval, which, to his knowledge, had not been
forthcoming in this case. Mr Bolkus is a founding partner in Adelaide lobbying
firm Bespoke Approach, with former Howard government foreign minister Alexander
Downer, and businessman Ian Smith, who is married to former senator Natasha
Downer said that he fills out a form for the UN Secretariat. But it is not clear
if this form lists Bespoke Approach's clients. The UN's safeguards against
conflicts by part time envoys appear lax, all the more so after the questions
that have arisen since part time UN envoy to Niger , Canadian ex-diplomat Robert
Fowler, was kidnapped while on non-UN business, visiting a Canadian owned gold
mine. Click here for that story -- more than a week after basic questions were
put to the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General, still no
answers have been received.
Footnotes: Paul Neville the parliamentarian explained to Inner City Press that
he has been sent to New York for the UN General Assembly for the next thirteen
weeks. Responding to Robert Fowler's detour in Niger , Neville said that if he
ventures beyond New York City , he has to get his own insurance.
Inner City Press also asked Downer about leaked UN documents about his role in
Cyprus , and will report that -- and attach some of the documents -- separately.
Watch this site.
* * *
At UN, Downer Says Has No Conflict in Cyprus , What Of Turkey , KKR?
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, May 4 -- How does the UN police for conflicts of interest in its
ranks? The answer appears to be, it doesn't. Last week the UN's envoy for Cyprus
, Alexander Downer, took questions from the Press. Inner City Press asked, as it
had in 2008, what safeguards are in place to ensure that Downer's job with
business consultancy Bespoke Approach doesn't conflict with his activities in
and around Cyprus .
Downer assured that he wouldn't allow conflicts, adding that Cyprus doesn't have
that much business. Neither is a satisfactory response at the organization like
the UN. Only a few month ago, the UN's stealth envoy to Niger , former Canadian
diplomat Robert Fowler, was kidnapped in Niger while on his way to visit a
Canadian-owned gold mine, apparently not on UN business. The UN has still
refused to answer questions, even after Fowler had been released, reportedly in
exchange for the freeing of terrorism suspects.
Downer's answer as to Cyprus is particularly insufficient because Bespoke
Approach work with Turkey (or Greece ) would also be a conflict. The investment
firm KKR lists an affiliation with Bespoke Approach. Who is policing these
conflicts? Not the UN.
Downer at UN, questions being raised, answers awaited
The Cyprus foreign service has made this transcript of Inner City Press' Q&A
Inner City Press: there’s been some controversy or questioning about if you can
be the envoy and also have side job as a businessman?
Downer: Well, I was employed part-time not full-time so I have to keep body and
soul together. I’ve got a wife, I’ve got children. My daughter got married last
week, I just have to pay for the wedding and thank you for congratulating me.
It’s only a part-time job. Of course I have absolutely no business with Cyprus
at all. I have absolutely no business involvement there. To have business
involvement there would be a conflict of interest. Cyprus would be the greatest
of perspective, I love Cyprus , is not a very big place, it’s not like the
United States . So business doesn’t arise day-by-day between Australia and
Inner City Press: I found on the UN website of bespoke approach, it says you are
a good person to hire in part, because you work for the UN. So some people
wonder whether it’s appropriate to …..
Downer: Let's just say I’m a good person to hire because if you read it
carefully, because I work for the UN, it just explains my CV. You are working in
the media and so I think you would appreciate this point in the way that I do. I
think transparency is incredibly important. Therefore, it wouldn’t be honest to
hide from anybody who may use bespoke approach. But it’s a fair question to ask
because obviously I have to be careful there is no conflict of interest. Also I
work as a professor at Adelaide University . In that capacity I do talk to
people about Cyprus from time to time. In Australia there’s quite a lot of
interest on Cyprus . There are nearly 100,000 Australian Cypriots. They split
about 60 – 40 Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots. So they keep me busy as well as
some of them are on campus of the university. One of them was at my daughter’s
wedding actually last week and started lobbying me furiously about some issue to
what I’m going to do.
Posted by Admin at 21:00 0 comments
Alexander Downer mixed in scandals! Downer call-up in AWB action
Downer call-up in AWB action
September 16, 2009
THE former minister for foreign affairs, Alexander Downer, will be called to
give evidence about his knowledge of AWB's payments to Saddam Hussein's regime
in a shareholder class action beginning in November.
The Federal Court gave the investors leave on Monday to issue a subpoena to Mr
Downer by November 20.
The $100 million damages suit begins on November 30.
The shareholders asked the court to order Mr Downer to appear after lawyers for
the grains trader revealed during a pre-trial hearing last week that part of its
defence would be that the government knew about the ''transport fees'' paid to
Iraq while United Nations sanctions were in place.
The shareholders' solicitor, Maurice Blackburn principal Ben Slade, said
yesterday that Mr Downer would be called as a witness ''to refute the suggestion
that AWB is making that the government knew that kickbacks were being paid''.
''We feel that we had no choice but to ask the previous minister to say again
what he said before the Cole inquiry,'' Mr Slade said.
In the final report of his 2006 commission of inquiry, Terence Cole, QC,
summarised Mr Downer's evidence as ''that he did not know and was not at any
time aware during the period from about 1999 to 2003 of anything about'' AWB's
payment of fees to Jordanian transport company Alia, or Alia's connection with
the Iraqi government.
''There is no evidence to suggest that minister Downer possessed any such
information at any material time,'' he said.
The investors allege that they suffered losses when the inquiry exposed the
They claim this damage would not have occurred if AWB had not concealed the
nature of the payments from officials because ministerial permission for its
wheat shipments to Iraq would not have been given.
Justice Lindsay Foster raised the prospect during Thursday's hearing that Mr
Downer would be called. The judge said he could ''see some difficulties'' for
the shareholders in trying to ''prove that the minister didn't know'' without
SEE also CANA report, PRO-TURKISH UN PERSONELL: http://cyprusactionnetwork.org/pro-turkish_un_personal
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