Row at UN domain-name body WIPO: Probes shut down, payout from controversial chief

Two investigations into the conduct of WIPO chief Gurry were set in motion last year after the Registerexclusively published an internal report on misconduct by Mr Gurry – the Pooley Report. This accused Gurry of improperly collecting DNA samples from staff without their knowledge in order to find out who had made internal complaints against him. It also accused Gurry of illegal exports of computer equipment to North Korea, and highlighted Gurry’s apparent over-riding of internal procurement procedures to award an IT contract to a company run by an acquaintance of his. At the time, Mr Gurry stated that the allegations were “without foundation”.

An initial investigation into the matters raised in the Pooley Report was undertaken by KPMG following the report’s publication by the Register. This concluded that a further and more detailed investigation was required. Such an investigation was begun – but the Register understands that it was closed down last November.

WIPO staff members want to know why this has happened. They also want to know why Gurry has paid out a significant sum of money to an ex-WIPO staff member named in the Pooley report. The staff council letter to WIPO’s supervising council of national ambassadors to the UN says:

A person (whose identity we will presently protect by calling him Mr X) was a temporary employee in WIPO internal audit; was involved in the tainted investigation of the Brown Report [the original probe into Mr Gurry’s secret collection of staff DNA in 2012-13]; critically, [he] appears in the Pooley Report … Mr X left WIPO in 2013 …

Mr X received in March 2015 a payment from WIPO for services rendered for over CHF 12,000. This sum was sourced to the budget of the Director General [Mr Gurry].

Link (The Register)

New Zealand Spied on WTO Director Candidates

New Zealand launched a covert surveillance operation targeting candidates vying to be director general of the World Trade Organization, a top-secret document reveals.

In the period leading up to the May 2013 appointment, the country’s electronic eavesdropping agency programmed an Internet spying system to intercept emails about a list of high-profile candidates from Brazil, Costa Rica, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, and South Korea.

New Zealand’s trade minister Tim Groser was one of nine candidates in contention for the position at the WTO, a powerful international organization based in Geneva, Switzerland that negotiates trade agreements between nations. The surveillance operation, carried out by Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB, appears to have been part of a secret effort to help Groser win the job.

Groser ultimately failed to get the position.

A top-secret document obtained by The Intercept and the New Zealand Herald reveals how GCSB used the XKEYSCORE Internet surveillance system to collect communications about the WTO director general candidates.

XKEYSCORE is run by the National Security Agency and is used to analyze billions of emails, Internet browsing sessions and online chats that are vacuumed up from about 150 different locations worldwide. GCSB has gained access to XKEYSCORE because New Zealand is a member of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance alongside the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

Link (The Intercept)