NEW YORK – Maria Veiga uncovered corruption while working for the U.N.'s weather agency in Switzerland, and what did she get for it?
She got fired.
And now, finally, the former auditor of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is getting some justice for her efforts.
Nearly four years after her dismissal, Veiga, a Portuguese national, has been awarded what is believed to be one of the largest amounts ever paid by the International Labor Office Administrative Tribunal. The ILOAT awarded Veiga $476,098 for defamation, harassment and wrongful termination while carrying out her recognized audit duties.
Veiga, a 10-year U.N. veteran, investigated a cash-for-votes scandal at the WMO and uncovered widespread fraud. Her probe implicated more than a dozen senior officials at the agency.
Veiga claimed she was harassed, persecuted and ultimately dismissed when she refused an order by the WMO's secretary general, Michel Jarraud, to cover up her findings. Jarraud, who claims he was uninvolved in any wrongdoing, was re-elected to a second term in May 2007.
FOX News exposed Veiga's plight in January 2007, and the 70-page tribunal decision -- handed down in July -- included its report as evidence during its review of Veiga's case.
Michele Montas, spokeswoman for the U.N. told FOX News that they will not comment further on a judicial decision. "I understand that the decision of the ILO Administrative tribunal is public and available on their website. WMO accepted the Tribunal's decision and will abide by it."
Edward Flaherty, Veiga's Geneva-based American lawyer, says while the decision is a victory, more needs to be done to protect whistleblowers and the U.S. taxpayer. The U.S. is one of the largest contributors to the WMO.
"Who is looking out for the U.S. taxpayer?" Flaherty asked. "It just reinforces the sad state of affairs of whistleblowers around the world, it doesn't matter if they work for a government, an international or multinational organization. Despite the great discussion of how whistleblowers should be encouraged and protected, the reality is that they end up suffering."
In an e-mail to Fox News, Veiga said that while the judgment is a historic one that has helped her recover her personal and professional dignity, she will still be carrying on her fight until justice is realized. That means getting her old job back and having the people who harrassed her sanctioned.
"It is completely unfair that WMO Secretary General and other harassers have not been sanctioned and yet continue to hold their positions, while the person who has been harassed and defamed is out of a job," she wrote. "It is totally unfair that I am kept away from my job and had my professional career and personal life destroyed. It means that who has the courage to bring to light fraudulent behaviors and practices will be out in any way."
The WMO is one of the most powerful voices in the global warming debate, and as the co-founder of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change wields tremendous influence over global warming policy.
Ben Evansky is a Fox News Channel field producer, and is a U.S. Youth Soccer qualified coach. Follow him on twitter: @ifutbol66.
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