Reports of corruption rise in Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

The $21.7 billion Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, backed by major celebrities and meant to serve as an alternative to the United Nations, has seen as much as two-thirds of its grants disappear through corruption.

Much of the money can be accounted for with forged documents or improper bookkeeping, an indication that it was pocketed, investigators for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said, according to the Associated Press.

The fund’s newly reinforced inspector general’s office, which recently uncovered the shady dealings, has only examined a small part of the $10 billion that the fund has spent since it was created in 2002. The levels of corruption seen so far are reportedly astonishing.

No less than 67 percent of money spent on a Mauritanian anti-AIDS program was improperly spent, according to investigators, the AP reports. A full 36 percent of the money spent on a program to fight tuberculosis in Mali was misspent, as was 30 percent of all money sent to Djibouti.

In Zambia, $3.5 million in spending was completely undocumented, according to the AP. The fund there decided that the nation’s health ministry could not manage the grants and so put the United Nations in charge. The fund is trying to recover $7 million from the ministry.

The fund is pulling or suspending grants in nations where corruption was found and is demanding recipients return millions.

"The messenger is being shot to some extent," fund spokesman Jon Liden said , according to the AP. "We would contend that we do not have any corruption problems that are significantly different in scale or nature to any other international financing institution."

The fund’s inspector general, John Parsons, said that donors should be reassured that the fund is serious about uncovering corruption.

"It should be viewed as a comparative advantage to anyone who's thinking about putting funds in here," Parsons said, according to the AP.