Kingston, Jamaica, 8 July 2024 — Following the publication of an article in the New York Times on 4 July 2024[1]  making reference to allegations of various financial irregularities in the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the ISA Secretariat feels compelled to make the following comments on the substance of the allegations made and the release to the media of confidential information about ISA personnel.

These comments are made in addition to those already shared with the press in two separate statements provided by the ISA Secretariat and the Secretary-General in his personal capacity.



The article makes reference to allegations of misuse of funds by the Secretary-General and 18 other former and current ISA personnel. As noted in the responses shared with the press, these allegations stem from a confidential complaint made in June 2024 to the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services by a former ISA Human Resources Associate (P-2) who retired in March 2022.

Upon receiving notification of the complaint, the Secretary-General immediately requested a report and investigation of the alleged irregularities with strict confidentially measures in place to ensure both confidentiality of the complainant and ISA personnel concerned by the allegations. The Secretariat was surprised and disappointed therefore, on 1 July 2024, to learn that the confidential complaint, including personal details of the staff members implicated in alleged wrongdoing, had been leaked to the New York Times.

The Secretariat was further surprised, on 2 July 2024, to receive a different version of the same list of alleged irregularities from an official of a Member State stating initially that it had been received from a “whistle-blower” before clarifying in a different correspondence, that it was in “public circulation” and indicating that the material had been sent to “several colleagues of mine from the press”  in view of “a forthcoming article on ISA”.


On the allegations of financial irregularities

On the report made by the article that there had been “misuse of funds of ISA”, the Secretariat unequivocally rejects such allegations and wished to underscore that ISA follows the most rigorous standards of international good governance and management where all financial spending is submitted to strict audits and regulations. Further, any funds can only be allocated to any staff member if aligned with ISA staff rules and regulations. When approved, such an allocation of funds is done independently of the staff themselves and the Secretary-General. To date, none of the strict independent annual financial audits has ever noted any unauthorized or improper payment of any kind.

With regard to the specific allegations, the Secretariat wishes to note that all relate to matters prior to 2022, yet, the complaint was made only in June 2024. The Secretariat also wishes to clarify that since 2020, the complainant had been seeking payment of a mobility incentive allowance which the Administration denied on the grounds that the complainant was not entitled to such payment. The complainant neither sought administrative review of the decision not to pay her mobility allowance nor appealed against the decision. Following internal review and investigation, the Secretariat is satisfied that the allegations are entirely lacking in merit and substance, as reflected in the following table (suitably anonymized to protect personal data).


On the intentional release of confidential information to the media by a third party

The Secretariat notes with concern that the article includes a link to a chain of emails on financial and budgetary matters under discussion by the Finance Committee of ISA in an apparent breach of the 1994 Agreement and the Rules of Procedure of the Finance Committee.

The Secretariat is further gravely concerned by the release of a confidential complaint and associated personal data of individual staff members into the public domain without the consent of the individuals involved and potentially in breach of multiple obligations relating to data protection and confidentiality, including United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Article 181(2), among others.

ISA has robust and independent procedures in place to deal with staff grievances and complaints and is committed to ensuring that legitimate complaints are dealt with fairly and transparently, following all the rules and principles of good governance established for the United Nations System organizations.

The Secretariat and its personnel note with regret that the release of unsubstantiated allegations and confidential correspondence seems to have been orchestrated in an attempt to tarnish their reputation at such a sensitive political time for ISA.

The Secretariat calls upon all actors to refrain further from unethical and damaging behaviours and consider using the appropriate and adequate channels of communication and action available to them as per the regular practice of international organizations.


[1] “Fight over seabed agency leadership turns nasty,” New York Times, 4 July 2024.

About ISA

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is an autonomous intergovernmental organization mandated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to manage the mineral resources of the seabed beyond national jurisdiction for the shared benefit of humankind. ISA is committed to the principle that all economic activities in the deep seabed, including deep-seabed mining, must be regulated and responsibly managed using the best available scientific evidence for the benefit of all nations of the world. ISA works to ensure that the voices of all States, including developing States and other stakeholders, are effectively heard in discussions around the sustainable development of the deep seabed.


For media enquiries, please contact:

Mr. Philip Janikowski, Communications Specialist, ISA,