World Bank retaliates against Parliamentary Whistleblower

World Bank retaliates against Parliamentary Whistleblower

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Bank's Commitment to Reducing Corruption

It is reassuring to know that the World’s No 1 financial institution leads the drive to Reduce Poverty around the World and is fully committed to Reducing Corruption; whether it is among recipients, or the consultants who work under the framework of its funded projects, or even whether it is within its own staff.

Mr. James Wolfenson, the former World Bank President, committed to this effort when he learned that the Bank’s Department of Institutional Integrity investigations of investment projects revealed that there had been sharp rises in Fraud and Corruption in Bank Financed Operations.

Mr. Paul Wolfowitz later expressed how the World Bank Group Owes So Much Gratitude to the individuals who help to protect the integrity of World Bank projects by Reporting Allegations of Fraud and Corruption. He followed on by elucidating how the World Bank institution Must Continue to Promote an Environment in which Bank staff, Public Officials and Private Citizens can report allegations to Ensure that Every Development Dollar is used to Benefit the Poor.

The Bank knows too well the risks these ‘Individuals’ take, and the pressures they are often subjected to, because of Reporting Fraud and Corruption, which inevitably deprives corrupt State Officials, Operators and possibly even Staff Members of their elicit gains.

In 2004 an Armenian Parliamentary Commission study into the World Bank funded Municipal Development Project found that the Authorized Representative of the project’s International Operator, was involved in wide-ranging Fraud, Corruption and Embezzlement, totalling tens of millions of dollars. The ‘Individual’ who managed the study for the Commission, reported the problems to the World Bank Armenia Country Manager and to the Bank’s Department of Institutional Integrity. But the problems continued – and escalated.

The Authorized Representative at the ‘Center of Corruption’ in the Municipal Development Project continued to provide consultancy services to the Yerevan water company, later to Veolia, a newly appointed World Bank Operator, and in January 2007 he was called upon to manage a new water project, financed by the World Bank.

The ‘Individual’ who had managed the study however found that he had become the subject of reprisals and that his wellbeing was at risk, because of responding to the World Bank call to report Fraud and Corruption, and his problems continued.

Therefore, two years after leaving the Parliamentary Commission, with the re-assurance that the INT and the Sanctions Committee/Board is committed to stamping out corruption, and that the Bank had created capacity to investigate allegations of fraud, corruption, coercion, and collusion related to WBG-financed projects, and to sanction firms and individuals found to have breached the fraud and corruption provisions of the Bank’s Procurement Guidelines or the Consultants Guidelines; And knowing that the Bank is committed to protecting those who are ready to Report Fraud and Corruption, in March this year the ‘Individual’ made a second application to the Department of Institutional Integrity, in the form of a ‘Demand Letter’, this time supported by the Government Accountability Project, Washington’s most influential human rights and freedom of speech organization.

The ‘Individual’ who had taken the risk in 2004, and who had become the subject of Serious Pressures by Reporting Tens of Millions of Dollars worth of Fraud and Corruption to the World Bank, found that it was necessary to remind the Bank’s Department of Institutional Integrity that neither the World Bank’s problems nor his problems had been resolved.

The ‘Individual’ is confident that the Department of Institutional Integrity, understanding the second application has re-doubled the risk and has heightened the pressure on him, will undoubtedly find the right way to express its gratitude, by using all the resources the Bank has made available to it to ensure a prompt and appropriate resolution to the ongoing problem.

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