World Bank opens up sanctions board's decision-making process

The World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C. Photo by: Deborah W. Campos / World Bank

For the first time, the public can access information on how the World Bank decides and applies sanctions in cases of corruption, collusion and fraud in projects and programs it funds in developing countries.

The full text of decisions and legal opinions on fraud and corruption cases processed by the World Bank Group Sanctions Board on or after Jan. 1, 2011, will now be available online, to be regularly updated with new decisions going forward. The World Bank also released a Sanctions Board Law Digest that includes descriptions of cases handled by the board since its inception in 1997.

The World Bank Sanctions Board is an independent tribunal with an external chair and majority of external members. It serves as the final decision maker in all contested cases of contractor wrongdoings in World Bank-financed projects. Until now, the bank has kept the board’s decision-making process under wraps.

In all previous cases of fraud, corruption or collusion, the World Bank only published a press release that identifies the sanctioned entity along with the type and duration of punishment imposed.

The publication of the Sanction Board’s decision and the law digest are part of the bank’s broader efforts to improve transparency and accountability of its processes, according to World Bank President Robert Zoellick. Fathi Kemicha, chair of the Sanctions Board, added that the bank hopes to contribute to the development of public international law as well as help bolster anti-corruption and anti-fraud practices in the international development community.

To date, the World Bank has sanctioned some 456 individuals and firms and has temporarily suspended another 150 contractors. The bank is also part of a 2010 cross-debarment among multilateral banks.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.