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Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

14 March 2005

Price Waterhouse Coopers’ Global Advisory chief today joined United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland to announce that the accounting giant would help the world body monitor nearly $1 billion to victims of the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, and set up a Web site to allow people to track how the money is spent.

Frank Brown told correspondents at Headquarters that Price Waterhouse Coopers’ pro bono offer of 8,000 man-hours would enhance accountability and transparency of funds entrusted to the United Nations under the Tsunami Flash Appeal, which now stood at $977 million. The firm, which will work with and help enhance existing accounting systems used by the United Nations, will also promptly investigate credible allegations of fraud, waste and abuse.

With the official agreement to be signed later this week, Mr. Egeland said that by early May anyone and everyone would be able to sign onto Relief Web and get up-to-the-minute information on the tsunami relief effort, including explicit details on project start/end dates, and descriptions of targeted sectors, expenditures, and programmes under way by various United Nations agencies. “My aunt will be able to go in and see if the money she sent to UNICEF is being put quickly to good use.”

Responding to several questions, Mr. Egeland acknowledged that, while this was not necessarily the first time the United Nations had enlisted the services of an outside contractor, what was new here was price Waterhouse Coopers’ pro-bono offer to enhance core United Nations activities, to ensure accountability and transparency. “This will show that we are up to the task, not only getting relief to the needy parties, but also in keeping track of every penny”, he said.

When asked, Mr. Brown said that his firm was not concerned with the recent allegations facing the United Nations of irregularities in its “oil-for-food” programme for Iraq. The pro bono offer was a part of Price Waterhouse Coopers’ overall commitment to the victims of the tsunami. “We have offices throughout the affected region... and... with 120,000 or so employees worldwide who care and want to give back to the communities they work in.” The firm had estimated that the financial tracking work would take up 1,000 hours and the rest of the time would be devoted to investigations.

Mr. Egeland added that the idea was to ensure that the resources pledged for the victims of the tsunami to the United Nations and its agencies were efficiently and effectively used. The joint programme would also quickly confirm if there were any irregularities in disbursements -- or no problems at all. He said that he was not aware of any mismanagement so far. Phenomenal progress had been made, but agencies had some worries about the transition from the traditional emergency phase of the operation to recovery.

On 24 August, said Mr. Egeland, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) would issue its mid-term review on the tsunami relief effort, including how much money had been spent thus far and what were the agencies’ priorities going forward. He hoped that the partnership with Price Waterhouse Coopers, as well as other private organizations, would continue during the recovery phase.

Mr. Brown added that his firm’s advisory work had already started and that early recommendations had already been made. The current United Nations tracking and monitoring process, like any, perhaps needed to be upgraded, so consultations were under way to bring in the services of several software companies to help in that regard.

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