MANHATTAN (CN) – Two members of a nonprofit that consults with the United Nations claimed in a derivative class action Thursday that the group has turned into a private clubhouse for its president.
Represented by the firm Nelson Madden Black in Manhattan Supreme Court, lead plaintiffs Valdemar Prado and Lilliana Bucur describe themselves as longtime members of the World Association of Former United Nations Interns and Fellows.
The group was allegedly formed in 1979 to encourage the participation of individuals from less-developed countries to work for the United Nations. Prado and Black say the group’s bylaws allow all former U.N. interns and fellows to become members, and that one perk of membership is a full-access entry pass to the United Nations.
But both plaintiffs saw their permanent ground passes to the United Nations revoked earlier this year, according to the complaint, when they confronted group president Ibne Hassan about his alleged misuse of office.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Hassan served as special adviser to the government of Pakistan. Prado and Bucur say Hassan has made at least $100,000 by selling the group’s U.N. entry passes to individuals with commercial interest, and that one of Hassan’s colleagues even paid him $50,000 to establish an unauthorized office in Tokyo using the group’s name.
Describing Hassan’s leadership as “incompetent and corrupt,” Black and Prado say he kept group records in his personal apartment, only to lose a great deal of them when he was evicted during a lengthy hospitalization.
“On information and belief, whatever the reason for Mr. Hassan's hospitalization, it has left him physically and mentally incompetent to perform his duties as president of WAFUNIF,” the complaint states.
Hassan, 79, has also become “penniless and homeless, and these conditions interfere with his ability to perform his duties as president,” the complaint continues.
Prado and Bucur say Hassan failed to collect member dues and has imperiled the group’s existence.
“It is not clear whether Mr. Hassan has kept any records of income and expenses
for WAFUNIF since he first became president of the organization,” the complaint states. “Although WAFUNIF is required by law to create annual financial statements, Mr. Hassan has never sent any such statements to the board on information and belief.”
Prado and Bucur say it was likely concerns about Hassan’s scheme that led the United Nations to temporarily suspend the group in July 2017 from authorizing entry passes. The U.N. has declined to get involved otherwise, leaving the courts as Prado and Bucur’s only recourse.
They note that the board could authorize suit against Hassan in a physical meeting, but this is unlikely because the board “has been a more or less inactive entity for at least the past ten years.”
“The board's current members are almost entirely elderly, and most of them are retired,” the complaint states. “They live in Ghana, Belarus, Canada, India, Germany and Brazil, as well as in the United States. A special meeting would be extremely inconvenient, if not impossible, for most of the board's members.”
Prado and Bucur say Hassan also hand-picked most of these members.
Seeking appointment of a temporary receiver and injunctive relief, the pair allege breach of fiduciary duty and misappropriation of assets.
Representatives from the WAFUNIF did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Prado and Bucher are represented by John Nelson of Nelson Madden Black.
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