The CEO of the international Irish aid charity, Goal, former Irish Minister Barry Andrews, has stepped down from his position amid an investigation by one of its main funders into the charity’s operations in Syria.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) on of the main funders of the charity is carrying out the investigation, under the Inspector General (OIG), into the aid charity which is being accused of mismanagement of the supply chain on the Turkey-Syria border.
In April, Goal and other charities were ordered to stop the procurement of good using United States funds because USAID had started this investigation into bribery and bid-rigging.
The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs withholding $121.2 million (€110m) in funding from Goal. The charity started working in Syria in 2013. Last month the COO of Goal, Jonathan Edgar, resigned.
On Thursday morning CEO of Goal, Andrews released the following statement:
"It has become clear to me that Goal requires a fresh start in terms of leadership. To that end, I informed Goal's board of directors last August of my intention to step down as CEO as soon as a suitable replacement could be identified.
“The circumstances of the OIG investigation over the last seven months have been extremely uncomfortable for GOAL and we are working hard on correcting the weaknesses identified and providing all necessary assurances to our donors.
“I do not for one moment resent the robust oversight of our donor partners and if we are serious about retaining public trust and managing large sums of taxpayers’ money, then this type of oversight is not only to be expected, but to be welcomed.
“GOAL applies exacting standards to the management of its programs and in my leadership role over the last few years I have endeavored to apply those standards."
In Syria over a quarter of a million people have been killed and 11 million others displaced due to the ongoing five-year armed conflict, as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and his allies, and those opposed to him, as well as the Islamic State, battle. According to Amnesty International 13.5 million in the region on in need of humanitarian aid.
Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan voiced his serious concerns over Goal’s operations in Syria after Andrews stepped down.
The Minister told the Irish Times “I have been seriously concerned about the issues under investigation by the US relating to procurement practices for humanitarian assistance operations for Syria, since learning of the investigation at the end of April.
“My department has been in regular contact with the US authorities and with Goal. I outlined the Government’s concerns in a meeting with the chair and members of the board of Goal last month.”
Flanagan also acknowledged Andrews’s contribution to Goal over the past four years.
Chairperson of Goal, Anne O’Leary, told BreakingNews.ie said "I want to thank Barry for the outstanding leadership he has provided to Goal over the last four years.
"He has also been an outstanding spokesperson for Goal on the national and international stage and in particular has been a courageous advocate on behalf of the people of Syria."
In August Andrews said, in relation to the accusations of corruption: “The allegations, broadly speaking, relate to collusion between suppliers in relation to prices that are set.
“They relate to allegations concerning kickbacks received by staff...There are a range of issues arising here, some of which affect Goal but all of these I would hope we would get to the bottom of in the next couple of weeks.”