World Bank retaliates against Parliamentary Whistleblower

World Bank retaliates against Parliamentary Whistleblower

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Program - Chronologically

In January 2004, responding to ongoing complaints from Yerevan’s water users and a complaint of ‘Bid-Rigging’ from a local construction company, Armenia’s Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Head of a Parliamentary 'Ad-Hoc' Commission, initiated a study into the World Bank financed Municipal Development Project. The Commission's Senior Specialist and Analyst, a British national, was instructed to manage the study.

Click for More .......................... Overview

The Initial Stage of the study attended to administrative, commercial and technical aspects of the project, and found numerous irregularities and diversions from the project parameters, a number of which were highlighted by the Head of Commission in a Presentation to the National Assembly in March 2004………………

Click for More ........... Administrative, Commercial & Technical

A Second Stage of the study was approved and attended to the financial aspects of the project. Serious irregularities were found with project finances, but equally important was that the International Operator’s Authorized Representative had been appointed General Director of the Yerevan Water & Sewerage Company, the Project Beneficiary. That created a serious 'Conflict of Interests', and in that capacity the International Operator manipulated company finances in a scheme to Embezzle Tens of Millions of Dollars of Public Funds

See: ............... How A. Utilities Loses Fifty-Five Million Dollars for Armenia

Submission of financial documents to the Commission was delayed until after the end of the Commission term, held up by a World Bank assessment. But the Speaker of Parliament extended the term of the Commission to enable completion of the study. The World Bank subsequently approved release of the documents and a study by the Commission found the Manipulations to be Ongoing

See: ............... YWSC Assets Re-Valuation

The Armenian Parliamentary Study into the Municipal Development Project ended in December 2004, by which time it was apparent that manipulation of the Yerevan Water & Sewerage Company finances by the International Operator was linked to the Government’s ’Integrated Finance Rehabilitation Plan’, which was supported by the World Bank and subject to ‘Surveillance’ by the International Monetary Fund. The work of the Parliamentary Commission widened to cover aspects of the Integrated Finance Rehabilitation Plan and found a Program of Rampant Corruption.

See: .......... Vahan Hovhanissian’s Multi-Million Dollar Promise - Reneged

Despite these problems having been regularly reported to the World Bank Armenia Country Manager and to the Department of Institutional Integrity (INT), at the beginning of 2007, the International Operator's Authorised Representative continued to provide consultancy services to the Yerevan Water Company. Moreover, the British National, who managed the study for the Parliamentary Commission, found that he had long been the Subject of Ongoing Reprisals by the World Bank.

Details Later ........................

In January 2007, the British national submitted copies of the study documents to the Government Accountability Project (GAP), Washington’s most influential human rights and freedom of speech organisation. After GAP’s Lawyers had carried out a detailed study of the documents, GAP agreed to act as ‘Legal Council’ for the British national and on 29th March 2007, submitted a ‘Demand Letter’ to Ms. Suzanne Folsom, Director of the Department of Institutional Integrity at the World Bank in Washington.

Details Later ........................

Following the GAP Demand Letter of March 2007, Mr. Richard Walkling, Authorized Representative of the International Operator (ACEA - A. Utilities), was promptly dismissed from his consultancy duties, which to that date, he had continued with the Yerevan Water Company. Mr. Alan Kuchukyan, Managing Director of the auditing firm KPMG in Armenia, unexpectedly took early retirement.

Addendum: Apparently Mr. Richard Walkling was re-instated with the Armenian water company after this blog was first posted.

Details to follow: ……………

On 29th May, the British Ambassador in Armenia wrote to Ms. Folsom, requesting that the "enquiries be concluded expeditiously in order to bring the matter to a timely and appropriate conclusion". A Senior official at the British Embassy in Washington has also been in contact with the Department of Institutional Integrity, seeking a resolution to the matter. But to date there has been no confirmation from the INT that there is to be a full inquiry …………………

See ……………….. British Government Support

The World Bank “Inconvenient Truth”

In an interview on the popular Shant television station, the World Bank Armenia Country Manager was asked: “What responsibilities do the World Bank have to a recipient country?” The Country Manager replied: “To ensure that at all times the recipient country is able to repay their World Bank obligations” That was a very Convenient answer for the Country Manager. The actual responsibilities the World Bank have to any recipient of World Bank funds are better elucidated in the Bank’s Articles of Agreement.

See .............. The World Bank Commitment

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