World Bank retaliates against Parliamentary Whistleblower

World Bank retaliates against Parliamentary Whistleblower

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Transparency International Armenia Letter to the World Bank Department of Institutional Integrity (INT)

4th March 2008

Development assistance, aimed to increase the sharing between the rich and the poor and to support equitable development processes, is vital to reducing poverty, promoting market economy and strengthening democratic institutions in recipient countries. Transparency International (TI) acknowledges a critical importance to ensure that development resources are used for this intended purpose and not diverted through corruption. One of the 2007 TI policy papers entitled “Poverty, Aid and Corruption” pursues policy dialogues with individual donors and multilateral institutions to jointly decrease corruption risks in delivering assistance

Bearing this in mind, Transparency International anti-corruption center in Armenia (TIAC, Armenia) requests your attention to the case related to the World Bank funded Municipal Development Project targeted at improving the water system in Yerevan, Armenia. Since summer 2007 the organization has been contacted by Mr. Bruce Tasker, a British citizen, to signal about his findings in a position of Senior Specialist for the Armenian National Assembly (NA) ad-hoc Commission established to study the efficiency of the use of loans, grants and humanitarian aid provided to Armenia, The Commission functioned in a period from September 2003 until June 2005.

According to Mr. Tasker, when in 2004 he submitted his report on the revealed fraud, corruption and embezzlement to the World Bank and the Department of Institutional Integrity (INT), he did not get support to investigate the reported case and instead became the subject of further reprisals. In March 2007, the Washington-based "Government Accountability Project" organization supported Mr. Tasker's claim against the Bank and resubmitted his case to INT. The Armenian media covered specific details and recent developments of this case throughout 2007.

The interim report of the Commission from September 2004 provided by the NA Secretariat as per TIAC, Armenia's request also refers to serious irregularities, mismanagement and poor performance in the implementation of the Project mentioned above. However, the final report published in 2005 contains neither positive, nor negative mentioning in regard with the Project, which caused certain concerns about inconsistency of the Commission investigation. After reviewing one of the claim items of Mr. Tasker's case as well as his report submitted to the NA Commission, the organization’s expert reported to the Board that there is a solid ground for a serious inquiry.

Having poverty and development as one of five global priorities of TI movement in the fight against corruption; hoping that the World Bank shares a TI’s vision of the development aid free of corruption; and considering the follow-up on this case as a strong preventive action against future harm to development processes in Armenia, TIAC, Armenia's Board calls INT to investigate the noted case.

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