Budget cuts also hit World Bank anti-corruption efforts

Posters displayed at the World Bank headquarters during the International Corruption Hunters Alliance Conference on Dec. 10, 2010. Anti-corruption efforts at the bank feel the effects of budget cuts that are part of the institution’s reform process. Photo by: World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

The total number of integrity investigations opened by the World Bank fell by 55 percent last year, a substantial decrease — even considering the $600,000 budget cut to the department as part of the bank’s reform process.

At the same time, preliminary inquiries dropped 21 percent, according to the 2014 annual update published Wednesday by the institution’s Integrity Vice Presidency, which looks into allegations of fraud and corruption in World Bank-financed projects and can debar companies from working with the bank for periods of time.

The report gave no reason for these and other reductions other than the well-known budget constraints. Emily Horgan from the International Finance Corp. noted: “There is complexity inherent in our process, which is why it’s not a perfect system … and why we are one of many mechanisms on the ground.”

One key sector that is gaining increased interest on the World Bank’s integrity efforts is agribusiness, Dina al Naggar, senior communications officer at the department, highlighted during an event preceding the release of the report on Tuesday at the bank’s annual meetings in Washington, D.C.

“We saw an increase [in corruption] in the agribusiness sector,” al Naggar said, citing this year’s findings.

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    Molly Anders

    Molly Anders is a U.K. Correspondent for Devex. Based in London, she reports on development finance trends with a focus on British and European institutions. She is especially interested in evidence-based development and women’s economic empowerment, as well as innovative financing for the protection of migrants and refugees. Molly is a former Fulbright Scholar and studied Arabic in Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.