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KPMG review finds IPCC chief Pachauri innocent of financial misdealings or conflict of interest, UK Telegraph apologizes for smearing him

By Joe Romm on August 26, 2010 at 3:09 pm

"KPMG review finds IPCC chief Pachauri innocent of financial misdealings or conflict of interest, UK Telegraph apologizes for smearing him"

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Monbiot: “A scrupulously honest man has been much maligned”

No evidence was found that indicated personal fiduciary benefits accruing to Pachauri from his various advisory roles that would have led to a conflict of interest.

That’s the finding of a detailed report by KPMG on the finances of Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

A great many U.S. reporters and bloggers owe an apology to Pachauri (see “N.Y. Times and Elisabeth Rosenthal Face Credibility Siege over Unbalanced Climate Coverage“).

Let’s see if they own up to it as the UK’s Telegraph finally did:

On 20 December 2009 we published an article about Dr Pachauri and his business interests. It was not intended to suggest that Dr Pachauri was corrupt or abusing his position as head of the IPCC and we accept KPMG found Dr Pachauri had not made “millions of dollars” in recent years. We apologise to Dr Pachauri for any embarrassment caused.

In fact, suggesting Pachauri was corrupt or abusing his position was the whole point of the story, which has been removed from their website but which you can easily find on right-wing websites by googling the title:  “Questions over business deals of UN climate change guru Dr Rajendra Pachauri” by Christopher Booker and Richard North.

This whole smear against Pachauri was so outrageous, but so eagerly parroted by U.S. disinformers and so willingly lapped up by the U.S. media that I’m going to reprint below in its entirety, George Monbiot’s piece for the UK Guardian.  I hope others will echo this far and wide:

Has anyone been as badly maligned as Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?

In December, the Sunday Telegraph carried a long and prominent feature written by Christopher Booker and Richard North, titled: Questions over business deals of UN climate change guru Dr Rajendra Pachauri.

The subtitle alleged that Pachauri has been “making a fortune from his links with ‘carbon trading’ companies”. The article maintained that the money made by Pachauri while working for other organisations “must run into millions of dollars”.

It described his outside interests as “highly lucrative commercial jobs”. It proposed that these payments caused a “conflict of interest” with his IPCC role. It also complained that we don’t know “how much we all pay him” as chairman of the IPCC.

The story (which has subsequently been removed from the Sunday Telegraph’s website) immediately travelled around the world. It was reproduced on hundreds of blogs. The allegations it contained were widely aired in the media and generally believed. For a while, no discussion of climate change or the IPCC appeared complete without reference to Pachauri’s “dodgy” business dealings and alleged conflicts of interest.

There was just one problem: the story was untrue.

It’s not just that Pachauri hadn’t been profiting from the help he has given to charities, businesses and institutions, his accounts show that he is scrupulous to the point of self-denial. After the Sunday Telegraph published its story, the organisation for which Pachauri works – a charity called The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) – asked the auditors KPMG to review his financial relationships. Today, for the first time, the Guardian is publishing KPMG’s report.

KPMG studied all Pachauri’s financial records, accounts and tax returns, as well as TERI’s accounts, for the period 1 April 2008 – 31 December 2009. It found that any money paid as a result of the work that Pachauri had done for other organisations went not to him but to TERI. None of the money was paid back to him by TERI: he received only his annual salary, which is £45,000.

His total additional income over the 20 months reviewed by KPMG amounted to the following:

“¢ A payment of 20,000 rupees (£278) from two national power commissions in India, on which he serves as director;

“¢ 35,880 rupees (£498) for articles he has written and lectures he has given;

“¢ A maximum of 100,000 rupees – or £1,389 – in the form of royalties from his books and awards.

In other words, he made £45,000 as his salary at TERI, and a maximum of £2,174 in outside earnings. So much for Pachauri’s “highly lucrative commercial jobs” amounting to “millions of dollars”.

Amazingly, the accounts also show that Pachauri transferred a lifetime achievement award he was given by the Environment Partnership Summit – 200,000 rupees – to TERI. In other words, he did not even keep money to which he was plainly entitled, let alone any money to which he was not.

As for “how much we all pay him” as chairman of the IPCC, here is the full sum:

£0.

It wouldn’t have been difficult for the Sunday Telegraph to have discovered this. It’s well known that the IPCC does not pay its chairmen. His job at TERI is not a “sideline”, as many of his opponents maintain. It is his livelihood.

This is a reflection of the lack of support given by governments to the IPCC. Its opponents like to create the impression that it’s an all-powerful body on the verge of creating a communist/fascist world government. In reality it’s a tiny, underfunded organisation which can’t even pay its own chairman.

Compare Pachauri’s total earnings to the kind of money made by the head of any of the UN agencies, or of the World Bank or the IMF, and you’ll see that he receives one-fifth or one-tenth of the cash raked in by his peers.

KPMG concluded:

No evidence was found that indicated personal fiduciary benefits accruing to Pachauri from his various advisory roles that would have led to a conflict of interest.

The Sunday Telegraph, in other words, maligned a scrupulously honest man.

How could the newspaper have got it so wrong? Was it because neither the journalists, nor anyone else at the paper, contacted Pachauri to check their claims?

When Pachauri approached the Sunday Telegraph, asking for a retraction, he was rebuffed. Far worse, the journalists pursued the attack in a series of further articles and blogposts. To me it looks as if Richard North was pursuing a vendetta against the IPCC chair. In a post in February, he wrote:

Pachauri is on the ropes but he ain’t down yet. The view is it will take one more ‘killer blow’ to fell him .. and it looks as if its been found! “¦ R K Pachauri needs to be acquainted with the first rule of politics – DFWN … since it is a family blog, you’ll have to work it out for yourselves.

The abbreviation stands for “Don’t fuck with North”. In truth Pachauri had done no such thing: he had merely asked, politely and mildly, for the false allegations to be corrected.

Repeatedly stonewalled when he tried to clear his name, Pachauri found he had no option but to instruct a firm of libel lawyers. Now, after months of refusing to back down, the Sunday Telegraph accepted the KPMG finding that Pachauri has not made “millions of dollars” in recent years and has apologised to him.

Because the issue took so long to resolve, the total legal costs for the paper – the fees for its own lawyers and Pachauri’s – run into six figures.

Has the Sunday Telegraph’s apology solved the problem? Some hope.

North has reacted to it with a new blogpost, also widely reproduced on the web, in which he refers to the Sunday Telegraph apology as a “non-apology”. He claims: “the article was sound, all the substantive facts are correct and the paper stands by them.”

He goes on to suggest that Pachauri was indeed “corrupt or abusing his position as head of the IPCC” and maintains that the accusation that Pachauri has made millions of dollars “stands uncorrected”. North fails to provide any evidence to support this falsified claim.

North also suggests that Pachauri’s hiring of a firm of libel lawyers in order to obtain this apology “tells you all you need to know” about him. In reality it tells you that Pachauri had exhausted his other options. He was desperate to put the record straight, but despite the incontrovertible evidence he provided, which showed that the story was false, the paper had refused to published a retraction. Pachauri threatened legal proceedings as a last resort.

So what can Pachauri do? There is now a large community of people – those who deny that man-made climate change is taking place – who appear to be out to get him. His crime is being chairman of the IPCC. That, as far as they are concerned, makes him guilty of any charge they wish to throw at him. They appear determined to keep repeating the falsehoods they have been circulating since December. We can expect this smear campaign to continue, and to become ever more lurid as new charges are invented.

The best we can do is to set out the facts and appeal to whatever decency the people spreading these lies might have, and ask them to consider the impact of what they have done to an innocent man. Will it work? I wouldn’t bet on it. As we have seen in the United States, where some people (often the same people) continue to insist that Barack Obama is a Muslim and was born abroad, certain views are impervious to evidence.

Precisely.

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24 Responses to KPMG review finds IPCC chief Pachauri innocent of financial misdealings or conflict of interest, UK Telegraph apologizes for smearing him

  1. Jeff Gazzard says:

    Sorry to cross-post but it’s really important that the smears against Rajendra Pachauri are nailed once and for all, so here’s my bit from the Guardian’s comments following George Monbiot’s article:

    Rajendra Pachauri is an outstanding Chair of the UN IPCC; he is a delightful man in person – I know, I’ve worked on an event directly with him; he simply doesn’t deserve any of the wild and unfounded accusations from the deniers; George Monbiot rightly repeats above what one of the world’s leading forensic accountancy firms have found and further publicises the Sunday Telegraph’s apology, so that should be the end of that.

    Except of course if you’re the original smearer…but that’s only to be expected. Richard North’s views won’t even make the smallest of historical footnotes in the real world – so-called “research”and commentary like his are simply found out once they step outside the vanity publishing mode of their own denier blogs, as the Pachauri example shows so very clearly.

    Let me repeat for the hard-of-reading – Rajendra Pachauri has been vindicated, Richard North is wrong, wrong, wrong. Next!

    Jeff Gazzard

  2. John Mason says:

    Richard North is “Spacedout” on there, FYI.

    It is beyond me that he has a job on that organ, the Telegraph. A one-man tea-party!

    Cheers – John

  3. PSU Grad says:

    “A great many U.S. reporters and bloggers owe an apology to Pachauri…”

    Yeah, good luck with that. Salon is reporting that Reagan’s DOE Secretary James Watt wrote in the Washington Post that the Reagan administration was pushing solar and wind power. And I suppose there are people who will actually believe that.

    No, the initial charges end up on the front page, while the corrections/apologies end up on page C23.

  4. peter whitehead says:

    the telegraph apology is not exactly easy to find on their website.

    [JR: Never is.]

  5. Jeff Huggins says:

    Rex Tillerson (for example)

    What is dramatically astonishing — indeed, mind-boggling and depressing — is that, while media outlets go after, and cover, allegations and supposed problems with well-intentioned and fact-based folks such as Dr. Pachauri, the mainstream media don’t do diddly in terms of focusing on the plain problems, contradictions, and “crimes against the future of humanity” being implemented by Rex Tillerson and others in those positions. Witness The New York Times’ kid-glove treatment of ExxonMobil and Tillerson.

    It’s downright astonishing.

    Sigh,

    Jeff

  6. Mike Roddy says:

    Thanks for this. “Pauchuri” was a meme on the far right sites like ClimateAudit, kind of like “Nancy Pelosi” somehow got people’s blood pumping on other kook sites. There is no content, only button pushing.

  7. Lord Christopher Monckton accused Pachauri of fraud on a massive scale for using a somewhat misleading IPCC graph in his talks and for having all these supposed financial conflicts of interest. The irony is that 1) Monckton has actually collected some enormous speaking fees for his roadshow, and 2) in the very letter in which he accused Pachauri of fraud for using a graph that is merely misleading, Monckton put forward a graph that has several times been shown to be blatantly fraudulent. (I.e., the data he plots as an “IPCC prediction” is fake.)

    http://bbickmore.wordpress.com/2010/08/25/the-monckton-files-going-to-jail/

  8. MarkB says:

    When will the accusers face their day in court? There’s much blame to go around…

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=pachauri+wattsupwiththat&btnG=Google+Search&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

  9. Anne says:

    “Shoot the Messenger” is the stock and trade of anyone irritated by the message, which is usually this thing called “the truth” — hard to swallow as it might be. Don’t like what IPCC is saying about the climate? Assassinate his reputation. Same with Julian Assange of Wikileaks recently accused of RAPE and MOLESTATION. Really? This pleasant, educated man? Really? And what about Brad Birkenfeld who delivered a truckload of hard truths to the Obama Administration and how did they repay him? JAIL. Hard time. Tom Drake? A patriot. Being punished. Bradley Manning, a young soldier who turned documents and damning video tape of American troops unabashedly killing Iraqi civilians… being held at Quantico. What’s going on here? Have we all lost our minds? Have we no decency? Pachuari is a victim in a long line of victims who did nothing more than tell truth to power. We have got to turn this around, in short order, or everyone with integrity will be behind bars, with the keys to the jail cells held by thieves, liars, and barbarians.

  10. Bob Ashworth says:

    Read George’s article and another in The Guardian. Just googled the story on google news and NOT ONE other paper is covering this story.

  11. Marion Delgado says:

    Good for Monbiot.

    I have to add that he really should write another one about Phil Jones. A complete mea culpa, that is.

  12. MapleLeaf says:

    Marion @11,

    I’ll second that. Perhaps you should contact Monbiot directly– does not hurt to ask.

  13. Susan Anderson says:

    Thanks for getting this out. Pachauri has joined the list of people whose names in an article call out the troops to malign the truth, along with Gore, Mann, Hansen, et al. As noted, his only crime was to accept $0 for heading up the IPCC.

    I’m reading Schneider’s Science as a Contact Sport, and it notes that Reagan had the solar panels on the White House removed at taxpayer expense (page 90). “Reagan’s Energy Secretary Dr. James B. Edwards, a dentist from South Carolina appointed by Reagan primarily to dismantle the … Department of Energy …. said, loudly enough to be overheard … ‘We were put in here to get rid of environmental and social science research, so just forget this project’”

    Ain’t we got fun!

  14. TrueSceptic says:

    Joe,

    Thanks for quoting Monbiot’s complete article.

    Aside from his more egregious crimes, why is North still allowed to use a sock puppet? This is crap behaviour anywhere.

    Pachauri should pursue his threatened libel action. What else will stop a liar lying again and again and again?

  15. catman306 says:

    None of us will be free until the day we all stop giving attention to the main stream media. Paid liars, like Sophists, like lawyers, the Media enslaves us with their untruths. But the MSM is hardly worthy of attention from those who believe in reality: what they can perceive with their senses or the technological extensions of their senses. The media has a hidden agenda and saving what’s left of our environment isn’t it. Science has a unambiguous agenda: discovering reality. The MSM helps prevent the public from seeing why science is a better choice than ideology.

    That day when the MSM is switched off and we all stop giving it attention, will be recorded as the last day for this civilization. But I’d bet that it will soon be forgotten.

  16. PurpleOzone says:

    #3 PSU Grad

    James Watt was Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior, not energy.
    He didn’t last long — Nancy Reagan was unhappy when Watt dissed the Beach Boys. It is rumored Nancy was instrumental in kicking out the kooks, worrying about her husband’s legacy.

    Certainly the Reagan administration was strongly pro-oil and did it many energy programs. It was horrifying at the time, even ripped the solar panels off the White House. Find it hard to believe Watt would claim otherwise. (But I’m taking notes from the Red Queen.)

  17. This confirms what we all knew, however Richard Norht refuses to accept the apology:

    http://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/still-not-sorry-head-of-ipcc-cleared-of-fraud-allegations-gets-apology-but-denier-calls-it-bullshit/

    Says North:

    “…As far as the paper goes, however, it is actually a non-apology – as a careful study of the words will reveal to anyone with a modicum of intelligence (a dwindling band, one fears).”

    When is an apology not an apology?

    When denier’s like North refus to admit any error.

    Just wait for the claims of white wash.

  18. Eli Rabett says:

    Who funds North? Call in the accountants.

  19. Good call Eli – how about if SPPI and Heartland open their books for scrutiny?

  20. Whatshisname says:

    Rod Serling used to say they pay you $10,000 a week until you need $10,000 a week then they own you. That helps explain Murdoch’s propaganda machine, but old fashioned blackmail has to be taken into consideration when trying to fathom the reasons behind some of the other bizarre reporting these days. For example, I used to work for a fall-down drunk of an editor who was routinely arrested for DWI. The cops would always call the police beat reporter to come pick him up. No charges were ever filed, but the arrest report was placed in the so-called “pending” file. As a result the police department and its friends among the local powers-that-be literally ran that newspaper. They censored stories and got reporters fired for decades.

    That’s just one example. As a result, when I see ridiculous reporting I cannot help but wonder, especially these days when technology has made blackmail very easy. Remember those wild MMS parties? Would it come as a surprise if hidden cameras were filming inspectors doing things that could have ruined marriages or gotten them thrown in jail? Journalists are human too, but they are taught beginning in high school to walk in the sunlight. Most do, but…….

  21. Colorado Bob says:

    Large CO2 release speeds up ice age melting

    The large CO2 release sped up the melting, he said.

    As for CO2 emissions contributing to recent global warming, Guilderson said the CO2 release from the last ice age is not relevant.

    “We can radiocarbon date the CO2 in the atmosphere now and what we’ve found is that the isotopic signature indicates that it is really due to the use of fossil fuels,” he said.

    The average lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere is on the order of 70-100 years.

    Provided by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    http://www.physorg.com/news202057818.html

  22. Colorado Bob says:

    “It is now clear that the record low temperature and density were primarily caused by unusually low levels of solar radiation at the extreme-ultraviolet level,” Solomon says.

    Woods says the research indicates that the sun could be going through a period of relatively low activity, similar to periods in the early 19th and 20th centuries.

    This could mean that solar output may remain at a low level for the near future.

    “If it is indeed similar to certain patterns in the past, then we expect to have low solar cycles for the next 10 to 30 years,” Woods says.

    http://www.physorg.com/news202054025.html

  23. Doug Bostrom says:

    Wasn’t some wag by the name of Tol appearing here some months ago, insisting Roger Pielke Jr.’s insinuations about Pachauri’s corruption were founded on facts?

    Something to consider when evaluating Tol’s work.

  24. BobbyBob says:

    And then this on the CBC today!

    http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2010/08/30/climate-panel.html

    Which has statements like:

    “The independent review of the UN climate change panel puts new pressure on panel chairman Rajendra Pachauri, who has been criticized for possible conflicts of interest but shows no sign of preparing to step down.”

    and

    ‘”It’s hard to see how the United Nations can both follow the advice of this committee and keep Rajendra Pachauri on board as head,” said Roger Pielke Jr., a frequent critic of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).’

    I was disgusted to see this story from a news organization that has been pretty good in the past.