In $60-million UN scandal, a $2.5-million housing investment in Goa — and no house to show for it



Updated: May 16, 2022 –  A $60-million scandal involving loans and grants by a little-known UN agency also included a $2.5 million investment to build affordable houses in India in 2019 — none of which have materialised yet.

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), which deals with operational projects, had entrusted the entire sum to a single British businessman and now faces $22 million in bad debts, as per a New York Times Report earlier this month.

A Singapore-based firm, owned by the businessman, David Kendrick, was in charge of getting at least 50,000 houses built in Goa for $2.5 million, UN documents show.

A couple in Delhi, Amit Gupta and Arti Jain, are the directors of this firm — Sustainable Housing Solutions (SHS) Holdings Pvt Ltd — that has little to show in its books, registering zero revenue and Rs 27,289 in losses in 2020-21.

The project was under the Sustainable Infrastructure Impact Investments (S3I) initiative, launched in 2018, which is now being probed by the UN for allocating all its funding to companies linked to Kendrick. The head of UNOPS, Grete Faremo, also stepped down earlier this month over the issue that has embarrassed the world body.

Gupta, who is the CEO of SHS, told The Indian Express that the project had been shelved .

A senior Goa government official confirmed to The Indian Express that a presentation was made to officials by SHS Holdings for the construction of the proposed housing units in Goa.

However, officials had questioned how supporting infrastructure like power and roads would be made available for the housing units also. They also had reservations about how the government could award such a large housing project to a private firm without a tendering project, said this official, requesting anonymity.

“No land was identified for the project. In fact, the discussions did not even reach the stage where the fund-sharing pattern for the project was discussed,” the official said.

Gupta claimed that it was the Goa government that had approached UNOPS