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UN Agency In Moscow Missing $1.2 Million --> 31 August 2005 -- The UN Development Program (UNDP) said today that local employees in its Moscow office appear to have embezzled $1.2 million in UNDP funds.

The agency's Moscow spokeswoman, Viktoria Zotikova, said the money disappeared between 2000 and 2004. She said that an internal audit has turned up forged contracts and invoices.

Auditors from UNDP headquarters in New York began the audit in June after Moscow staff reported suspicions that financial violations had taken place.

The UNDP said in a statement that a group of staff members who worked in the office's operations division are under suspicion. All of the supects quit their jobs before the allegations arose.

The UNDP has spent more than $56 million in economic development programs and democracy building projects in Russia since 1997.