James Wasserstrom was the UN's top anti-corruption officer in Kosovo in 2007 when he warned his superiors about a lucrative kickback scheme linking UN officials to a local utility company. Wasserstrom took his complaint to the UN's oversight office. He was arrested, sacked from his job, investigated and treated like a pariah by an employer he had loyally served for three decades.
During his seven-year ordeal, Wasserstrom found UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "unhelpful". "I was informing him all long of what I though were missteps", he says, "and he didn’t intervene when he could".
But the US diplomat found a powerful ally in his own government. A bill passed by Congress in January forces the State Department to withdraw 15% of US funding from any UN agency that fails to establish protection for employees who expose corruption.