Monday, February 25, 2013

Gates-Backed Charity Targeted In Embezzlement Probe

Twenty doctors with ties to a charity backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were arrested over the weekend in Niger for suspected embezzlement of funds.

According to an article on The Huffington Post, the arrests are part of an investigation of some $1.5 million in funds donated by the GAVI Alliance between 2007 and 2010. The arrested doctors were charged with allegedly embezzling these funds from the organization, which has reportedly suspended the financing of health programs in Niger until the money is reimbursed.

The Washington, D.C.-based GAVI Alliance, which was founded in 2000 with help from a $750 million grant from the Gates Foundation, aims to improve access to immunization in the world's poorest countries. The organization also receives support from the World Bank, UNICEF, and donor governments.

The landlocked West African country has made fighting corruption a priority in recent years. In 2011, President Mahamadou Issoufou fired two ministers who allegedly awarded illegal state contracts.

This is not the first time the Alliance has faced financial controversy. In December, the nonprofit suspended $6 million in funding to another African country, Sierra Leone, after an audit revealed misuse of $1.1 million in previously disbursed funds. The report showed undocumented expenses, cash handouts, and overcharged procurement costs between 2008 and 2011.

You can read the full story on The Huffington Post.

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