FAO hired offspring of IAEA chief as quid pro quo for Grossi appointing Chinese DDG, diplomats say

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang meets with Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in Beijing, capital of China, May 23, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

 VIENNA – IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi appointed a Chinese former vice minister as a deputy director general of the agency as a quid pro quo for the recent appointment by FAO Director General Qu Dongyu of Grossi’s daughter to a sought-after staff job in Qu’s cabinet office, diplomatic sources say.

 The appointment of Augustina Grossi at P3 level was one of a raft of hirings to staff positions that consultants at the FAO have complained are “nepotistic,” jumping the queue of consultants who have been waiting for staff jobs, in some cases for decades. Western diplomats based in Vienna suggest the appointment of Ms Grossi to Qu’s personal office was a quid pro quo by China for her father in 2021 arranging the appointment of Hua Liu as Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation at the IAEA.

 “A national of China, Mr Liu is an engineer and scientist with more than 30 years of experience in the fields of nuclear science and radiation protection,” according to the IAEA website. “Prior to joining the IAEA, Mr Liu served as a Vice Minister of Ecology and Environment from 2018 to 2021, and Vice Minister of Environmental Protection from 2016 to 2018. Throughout the period 2016 – 2021, he also acted as the Administrator of the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA), the government agency responsible for regulating and ensuring the safety of all civilian nuclear infrastructure in China.”

Given that China has been consistently criticized for its pisspoor environmental policies, including its failure to cut back coal production, his appointment to the IAEA by the Argentinian DG was not viewed with pleasure by Western diplomats.

 Helen Hai, a Chinese wheeler dealer at a high level who has been nicknamed the “blockchain queen,” is believed to have organized the trade off between the two appointments to the benefit of China and the Argentinian DG, the sources added.

 Ms Grossi is one of eight children of Dr Grossi, from two wives.  They all hold Argentine and Italian passports. Dr. Grossi has worked hard to ensure that his brood is well placed in plum jobs in the UN system on a quid pro quo basis.

 Augustina had a forgettable stint at the UNIDO Media Office, under the supervision of German Director Dr. Kai Bethke, UNIDO sourcess say.