The Global Fund has backed down on its threat to cut or reduce health grants to Cambodia worth more than $100 million, saying they considered the fraction of misused funds that have been returned thus far a sign of sufficient good will.
In a letter sent to Health Minister Mam Bun Heng on December 9, the Global Fund threatened to cut or reduce grants worth $106 million if $427,841 was not refunded within a month by the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STDs (NCHADS), NGO umbrella group Medicam and the Ministry of Health.
Although the fund has yet to receive a dime of the $410,712 from the Health Ministry that makes up the bulk of requested funds – a sum related to improper commissions received by senior officials at the National Malaria Center (CNM) – it said yesterday it no longer planned to cut grants.
“We have received a payment from NCHADS, and we commend NCHADS for acting promptly on a Global Fund request. We have also received a partial payment from Medicam. We look forward to similar cooperation from CNM,” Seth Faison, communications manager for the Geneva-based fund, said.
“We expect all parties to be fully accountable for their grant management practices. In our discussions, we have received constructive responses to our requests, so we do not currently plan to cut or reduce funding in the immediate future.… Yet we will evaluate current and future grants on a continuing basis, and will adjust our plans as appropriate,” he added.
NCHADS was asked to return $41,404 related to the alleged manipulation of procurements by a senior official, while Medicam was asked to return $20,725 for allegedly charging the fund for two staff positions that were never filled.
Faison declined to say how much of the money was returned.
NCHADS director Mean Chhivun, CNM director Char Meng Chuor and health minister Mam Bun Heng – each of whom the Post has attempted to reach numerous times since the initial Global Fund investigation emerged – remained unavailable for comment yesterday.
Medicam executive director Sin Somuny hung up on a Post reporter.
The Anti-Corruption Unit has said it is investigating the Global Fund allegations but is yet to release any findings or make any arrests.