World Bank upholds integrity in anti-graft drive

In June 2005, Paul Wolfowitz vowed to rid the World Bank of corruption, and received resounding support from the bank’s board members. Since then, his rigorous anti-graft campaign has ruffled many feathers, but has perhaps paved the way for actually getting “money in the hands of the poor.”

Under Wolfowitz’s reform program, the World Bank’s “institutional integrity department” has made 337 sanctions for fraud and corruption and has banned 58 firms and individuals from competing for World Bank contracts, some of which include corporate giants: the German Lahmeyer International, the Canadian Acres International, and the French Thales Consulting and Engineering. The work of the investigative unit has also caused 13 World Bank staff to be terminated or barred from rehire.

Unrelenting in exposing its findings, the department’s Integrity Report flashed a photo of a “trust fund conservation project” that promised a hot springs spa for ecotourism but instead delivered “a muddy hole in the jungle.” On its website are illustrations of corruption cases, such as that of a thatched hut school with overcrowded students next to a brand new schoolhouse used to stock onions.

Confidentially agreements for whistleblowers as well as a “voluntary disclosure program” for erring but penitent contractors have helped in fostering greater accountability among employees and member organizations, and countries.

At present, Wolfowitz and his supporters still need board approval to bar entire countries from World Bank lending, but already have the authority to sanction individual projects.

Source: World Bank Job (Wall Street Journal)

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