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UN chief 'blocked US man from job'

An accomplished former US prosecutor is taking United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon to a tribunal, accusing him of blocking his appointment to the world body's top investigative post.

Robert Appleton claims he was the victim of discrimination based on gender and nationality.

The dispute over Mr Appleton's appointment is the latest salvo in a high-stakes fight within the organisation over how to fix the UN's long-troubled internal watchdog agency.

UN associate spokesman Farhan Haq said Mr Ban's office could not comment on matters before the tribunal.

Mr Appleton's 76-page application to the UN Dispute Tribunal said Mr Ban's refusal to hire him was a breach of the UN Charter and General Assembly resolutions.

Mr Ban appeared to be ignoring UN rules that require filling vacancies based on experience and qualifications "because of the applicant's gender and nationality. This is the essence of discrimination endorsed by the very officials whose job it is to enforce the organisation's policies prohibiting such conduct", Mr Appleton wrote.

He is seeking one million dollars (£630,000) in damages and up to about 500,000 dollars (£314,000) in lost wages and benefits.

Mr Appleton headed the UN's special white-collar fraud unit known as the Procurement Task Force, that operated with great success from 2006 to 2008. It found 20 significant corruption schemes, leading to several felony convictions and sanctions against dozens of UN sellers.

During two global recruitment rounds in 2008 and 2009, an internal hiring panel selected Mr Appleton from among about 70 applicants as the sole qualified and suitable candidate to serve as permanent head of the investigation division within the UN's Office of Internal Services, or OIOS.

The outgoing head of OIOS, Inga-Britt Ahlenius of Sweden, who stepped down last month after five years, had left the position unfilled from mid-2006. She recalled in a confidential report last month to Mr Ban, which severely criticised his leadership, how she tried unsuccessfully nine times since late 2008 to fill the job by persuading Mr Ban to appoint Mr Appleton.

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