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Probe catches agency in corrupt deals to help Syrian refugees

Leo Hohmann

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May 12, 2016

An NGO that gets tens of millions in U.S. taxpayer money to resettle foreign refugees into dozens of U.S. cities is being investigated for corruption involving contracts with Turkish companies.

The International Rescue Committee is one of the nine volunteer aid agencies, also called VOLAGs, that contract with the federal government to resettle refugees into the United States from Syria, Somalia, Burma, Iraq, Bhutan, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

New York-based IRC, headed by former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, is being investigated by the Office of the Inspector General within the U.S. Agency for International Development for bid rigging and bribery that allegedly took place among its staff members lining up supplies and services for displaced Syrians in Turkey, according to government documents turned over to WND from the Inspector General’s Office.

In November 2013, Miliband’s organization gave billionaire George Soros its highest award, the Freedom Award, and Soros responded by donating $1 million to the IRC.

Miliband is also a close friend of Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the same time he was foreign secretary.

But his organization is now under the microscope for its alleged involvement in a corruption scandal that so far has not been reported in the establishment media.

USAID’s Office of the Inspector General’s semi-annual report to Congress said 14 companies and individuals had been suspended as part of a “complex investigation into cross-border aid programs.”

The statement from the Inspector General reads as follows:

“Some early concerns about these practices surfaced through one USAID implementer, which identified and self-reported procurement irregularities affecting its programs. Aid organizations providing life-saving assistance in Syria and the surrounding region face an extremely high-risk environment. Lack of fully competitive procurements, insufficient oversight, and the absence of adequate internal controls for obtaining, storing, and delivering relief supplies can jeopardize the integrity of these relief efforts and deny critical aid to those in need.

“To date, OIG’s investigation has established grounds resulting in the suspension of 14 entities and individuals involved with aid programs from Turkey. As a result of the suspensions, these parties are no longer able to receive U.S. government awards.

“A portion of USAID-funded cross-border programs in Syria were suspended as a result of this investigation, and several NGOs delivering aid to Syria have

terminated staff members’ employment based on demonstrated misconduct.”

The IRC is one of the three international aid groups to have had millions of dollars in funding withdrawn over alleged bid-rigging and bribery. In January IRC terminated two corrupt staffers in Turkey (See pages 41-42 of OIC report to Congress).

‘A sophisticated operation’

A senior USAID official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Telegraph that private Turkish companies had sold cut-rate blankets and other supplies at vastly inflated prices and pocketed the difference.

“What became clear in the course of this investigation was this was a pretty sophisticated operation,” the USAID official told the Telegraph.

“Thanks to Miliband’s IRC our tax dollars, probably millions of them, went to some corrupt Turkish contractors,” said Ann Corcoran, author of the Refugee Resettlement Watch blog.

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The IRC has annual revenue of more than $562 million and $378 million of that came from government grants, according to its most recent Form 990 filed with the IRS.

That means IRC gets 67 percent of its budget funded by taxpayers in the U.S. and U.K.

It has 11 paid staff members that make more than $200,000 per year, according to the Form 990. A 12th staffer, the general counsel, makes $195,427.

Miliband himself makes $300,000 a year, but that is bumped to $600,000 including non-cash compensation.

“This is the type of stuff I think they’re really vulnerable on because there is corruption in these big non-governmental organizations,” said Corcoran.

In 2013 Miliband, a member of the British Labor Party, said it was time for world leaders to accept the ascendancy of “political Islam” and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Miliband has talked about returning to Britain and running for the parliamentary seat vacated by Sadiq Khan, the newly elected first Muslim mayor of London.

In 2013, when he came to New York the IRC hosted a reception for him where he was warmly received by the Clintons and Soros.

“If you saw him, you’d have a big crush,” Hillary Clinton told Vogue magazine, saying she found him “vital and attractive.”

David Miliband, former foreign secretary for the U.K., floored then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with his charm.

Miliband was one of the first refugee advocates to say the U.S. needed to take 65,000 Syrians, then upped his demands to 100,000 over two years.

Causing division in Montana

IRC is currently at the center of a plan to resettle Syrian Muslims in Missoula, Montana, against the will of a large number of Montanans, WND reported earlier this year.

The IRC has offices in dozens of U.S. cities where it is actively seeding communities with refugees. (See list of cities here.)

IRC is building “communities within communities” in 26 areas including Atlanta, Wichita, Baltimore, Boise, Idaho; Dallas, Miami, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Seattle, Tucson and Phoenix; Los Angeles; Charlottesville, Virginia; Silver Spring, Maryland; and Northern California.

Looking for new cities to plant ‘seedlings’

New offices are opening in Missoula; Richmond, Virginia; Tallahassee, Florida; Garden City, Kansas; and Midland, Texas.

The resettlement process is like planting “seedlings,” as White House immigration adviser Cecilia Muñoz described it in a conference call last year. And these seedlings will be nurtured by the government and its army of left-wing NGOs until able to eventually rise up and overtake their host communities.

“They’re all scouting around now, not just IRC but all of the VOLAGs, for new places to get these Syrians placed,” Corcoran said. “That’s the problem they have now, the other places are filled up, the limiting factor being housing. There is not enough subsidized housing to accommodate all these refugees, so they’re looking and scouting all the time for new cities in which to send them. Jobs, too, are scarce. There’s not enough places for these people to work.