Our story from yesterday about the incongruity of an IMF country chief joining public political demonstrations sponsored by oligarchs benefiting from IMF largesse caused a bit of a stir.
This morning an article in Neon24, the largest news portal in Poland, dug deeper into the mess.
It certainly does appear that the IMF’s Ukraine Chief, Jerome Vacher, is a bit of a lapdog for Mr. Pinchuk, one of Ukraine’s top oligarchs.
Pinchuk is already a headline hog for causing the biggest scandal to date in the many that have plagued Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency.
Earlier this year the story broke that he is the largest individual donor to the Clinton foundation, gifting them to date $9 million, part of a $29 million commitment. So lets just say this guy has a knack for influence peddling and buying people off. But the IMF is happy to party with him. Now it seems Pinchuk has been at it in Poland too.
Here is the translation from the Polish. Enjoy.
The Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk has been present in the pocket of our former President Alexander Kwasniewski. But it turns out that Mr Pinchuk also runs a string of high-ranking officials of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has been generously financing the Ukraine.
Until now we thought it was just our former statesman Sasha Kwasniewski hanging on the leash of Mr Pinchuk, who started becoming a billionaire from the happy fact of being the son-in-law of former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. About the Kwasniewski and Pinchuk relationship, see our report here.
Now the evidence appears that Mr Pinchuk has in his pocket the IMF’s official representative in Kiev, Mr. Jerome Vacher.
On the occasion of an event Mr Pinchuk was sponsoring in Venice last May, Mr. Vacher turned himself into a political happening (picture above) as the official representative of the IMF, an institution with a somewhat different definition of its international role than that of a political demonstrator and propagandist for domestic Ukrainian affairs.
Interestingly, Mr Vacher showed up at the Pinchuk party in Venice on May 7, just before the arrival in Ukraine of a very important mission of the IMF; that was scheduled to run from May 12 to May 29. Usually, as those of us who have also served in Washington know, such IMF missions require preparation until the very last minute. The Fund is not in the habit of letting its local representatives go on party trips for themselves just before an important mission commences, instead of getting ready for the arrival of the mission from headquarters.
We doubt that Mr Vacher also left scenic Venice late in the evening of his partying and demonstrating with Mr Pinchuk, so as to start fresh in his Kiev office the very next morning, May 8. That day was a working day in Ukraine. (The next day, May 9, was the holiday commemorating the end of World War II in Europe).
This week IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde was asked several questions to clarify what the Fund was doing with Mr Vacher in Venice.
Here is how the IMF replied:
From: IMF Media Relations [mailto:Media@imf.org]
Sent: 06 August 2015 00:06
Subject: RE: URGENT DEADLINE – Questions regarding Jerome Vacher’s violations of the IMF Code of Conduct – conflict of interest, gift-taking, political partisanship
Mr. Vacher was on personal leave on May 7. We have nothing else to offer on your other questions. Please attribute this to an IMF spokesperson.
IMF Press Office
I wonder why the IMF doesn’t want to notice the problem its local representative created by flying himself to Venice – well, not exactly, with help from Mr Pinchuk – while the IMF officials were preparing for their important mission to Kiev? Do one set of IMF rules apply to Mr Vacher in Ukraine, and another to his co-workers in Washington? Or is Mr Vacher an exception the Fund’s Managing Director makes for Mr Pinchuk?
A year ago, on May 7, 2014, the exceptional Mr Vacher said at a press conference in Kiev that the IMF is lending $17 billion to Ukraine provided that it makes a brave start to the fight against corruption, the likes of which the world has never seen before. To be precise, “the authorities have embarked on a comprehensive and ambitious reform program”, he said, and have “committed” themselves to “ implement comprehensive structural reforms … to help reduce corruption.” The full speech can be listened to here.
Twelve months on, if the fight against corruption in Ukraine includes a joint party trip for the IMF Representative and the oligarch Pinchuk to Venice, City of Dreams, then can the harsh fight against corruption Mr Vacher announced on IMF time be seen to have started at all? .
Has the IMF representative in Kiev found himself on the string of the Ukrainian oligarch?
Follow-up note from Russia Insider
Gerry Rice, head of press for the IMF and Lagarde’s personal spokesman, has confirmed that he has read the questions on Vacher’s conduct in Venice, according to an assistant in his office, Therese Gahina. She confirmed he would reply. After he did, another assistant, Simonetta Nardin, claimed that the IMF answer must be attributed anonymously. “Please attribute this to an IMF spokesperson,” Nardin said by email. When it was pointed out that the questions had been accepted by Rice for Lagarde, Nardin claimed: “We have offered you nothing on behalf of, or attributable to, Ms. Lagarde.” Nardin was then asked: “On whose authority, Ms Nardin, do you say we?” Nardin refused to reply.
At the IMF Nardin is titled “Senior external relations officer”. The IMF says she is “responsible for the organization’s out reach to civil society organizations”. She claims to have been a journalist in Italy before joining the IMF in 1997.
In public Nardin says she is concerned about the accountability of the IMF. At a conference organized in October 2004 by Forum 2000, Nardin said:
“How do you make these institutions accountable and responsible? If you identify the issue, and then you say, let’s take Iraq as an example and see how it works. Let’s take the IMF again. We were talking about the IMF; I work there, but let’s say, you want to make the IMF responsible and accountable for what it does.” (Source)
Nardin asked the question as if she believed the answer. But she didn’t give one.
Her appearance was sponsored by the US Government through the National Endowment for Democracy, the Czech Foreign Ministry, the European Commission, and the Taiwan government’s office in Prague.