11 May 2006 | Anusha Bradley
The United Nations will run background checks on suppliers using a database supplied free of charge by a London-based firm.
Several UN agencies will use World-Check's system to screen suppliers for allegations of criminal activities such as identity fraud, money laundering or drug trafficking.
World-Check offered the service to the UN after PricewaterhouseCoopers, which was undertaking a free audit of payments made to tsunami contractors, requested help to check the validity of suppliers. World-Check provided access to the database on a pilot basis and then extended it indefinitely.
World-Check collects information such as press releases, arrest warrants and sanction lists. It picks up aliases, alternative spellings of names or mistakes and creates a reputation profile, alerting institutions of potential risk. This can be accessed online or as an in-house database.
David Leppan, chief executive of World-Check, told SM
the successful trial caught the attention of other UN agencies. The UN Development Programme, the UN Population Fund, the World Food Programme and the UN Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs will all use it.
Kevin Kennedy, director of the UN's co-ordination and response division, said the system would enhance purchasers' ability to conduct due diligence, especially when checking suppliers contracted to respond to emergencies.
Fraud allegations at the UN Procurement Service and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations are being investigated. The UN could not confirm whether these departments would use the database.