World Bank retaliates against Parliamentary Whistleblower

World Bank retaliates against Parliamentary Whistleblower

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Taming Armenia’s World Bank Beast

In pursuance of my year-long internationally backed campaign to persuade the World Bank’s Department of Institutional Integrity (INT) to carry out an investigation into my claim of fraud and corruption in Armenia World Bank projects, I recently sent a message to the Bank’s Country Manager suggesting that it was not too late for his friends at the INT to come to Armenia and try to restore some level of integrity in the Bank’s Armenia operations. Amazingly, this time my call did not fall on deaf ears, I received an invitation to meet with the INT team, who had apparently sneaked into Yerevan a week earlier to carry out the long-awaited investigation. I eagerly agreed, thinking that at last the INT had seen the devastation caused by the years of World Bank irresponsibility in Armenia and had decided to intervene to regulate the situation and possibly even penalize the offenders.

But my hopes were quickly dashed by an INT senior investigator, who talked about his previous communications with me and with GAP, but who I had certainly never heard of before, let alone corresponded with. And although the INT had apparently spent the past year carrying out an initial appraisal, he had far less understanding of my claim than the thousands who have followed the action through my blog and through news reports. I understood that although my claim has been a convenient excuse for an INT trip to Yerevan that is where any association between the INT and my claim ended. In true World Bank fashion, this INT team obviously had a completely different agenda for Armenia.

There is a problem; the wild beast the Bank and its sister institution the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have been creating for Armenia since the turn of the century has not only turned on its own people, killing them for peacefully demonstrating their democratic rights, it has turned on its master, calling the U.S. President a liar and criticizing his affairs in Iraq. So the mechanism which for the past ten years has been extolling the marvelous achievements of this sorry excuse for an Armenian administration now has the task of tearing it to pieces. The ‘Caucuses Tiger’ is soon to have its teeth ripped out and thorns stuck in its feet - by the very people who bottle fed it from birth and later, in the run-up to Armenia’s recent Presidential election, taught it how to stalk and kill its prey.

For years the Bank and the IMF have been building an Armenian economic boom around remarkable levels of foreign direct investment (FDI), knowing that FDI in Armenia has been nothing more than the re-assignment of stolen state assets to oversees enterprises. The same financial institutions have turned a blind eye to money laundering, preferring to praise wonderful achievements in the construction sector; the local currency has been artificially driven to ever-increasing highs to favor monopolistic importers - at the expense of ailing domestic production, but the sister institutions have reported the Dram has strengthened in response to the economic boom. And the alarming increase in corruption which has understandably accompanied this fallacious economic boom has attracted nothing more than WB/IMF lip-service.

Today, as Armenia is moving into its meticulously prepared and nigh on irreversible WB/IMF crisis, the international community has decided that it will no longer tolerate the deceit handed to it by Armenia’s tyrants. It will not be called a liar and have its international policies criticized. So it is demonstrating its displeasure by cutting off international funding. But years of feeding the beast with poverty reduction funds which were intended for the under-privileged has enabled it to generate a self-sustaining financial capability many times more than the amount of international finance the republic receives each year. So cutting off external finance is of little significance and can easily be compensated in a number of ways, most simply by a hike in food and energy prices.

So action needs to be taken and that is why the INT investigation team has eventually arrived in Armenia. They are not here to investigate rampant fraud and corruption in World Bank Armenia projects; they are here firstly to do what they do best, to repel a comprehensively documented claim of high-level and wide-ranging World Bank corruption; and secondly to manipulate a foundation on which the Bank and the IMF will be able to report a collapsing Armenian economy, in a similar way to which since the turn of the century they have been manipulating and fabricating Armenia’s dubious economic boom. In that way, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund will be able to deal a serious blow to the beast, again at the expense of the people of Armenia, who will be forced to pay the price over the counter and who will suffer increasing oppression through many coming years.

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