WASHINGTON, July 22, 2011 - The World Bank welcomes the prosecutorial action taken by Økokrim, the Norwegian National Authority for the Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime, against three former employees of the Norwegian engineering consulting firm Norconsult, following a referral from the World Bank's Integrity Vice Presidency (INT).
The three former employees were convicted of bribery in connection with the Dar es Salaam Water Supply and Sanitation Project, a World Bank-financed project in Tanzania. The sentence was pronounced on July 15, 2011, and one of the convicted persons has been sentenced to jail.
"The success of this case sends a clear signal that the World Bank remains committed to supporting national authorities' efforts to fully prosecute wrongdoers whose actions undermine development projects," said Leonard McCarthy, World Bank Integrity Vice President. "We are currently pursuing dialogue with several other national authorities to which we have referred similar cases and expect them to take similar action."
Over the past several years, INT has referred investigative findings to national authorities in numerous jurisdictions, including Albania, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, the United Kingdom and others. In April 2011, INT submitted its referrals on the case of the Italian Company Lotti to Indonesian and Italian authorities. In the same month, the Indonesian authorities arrested the former Head of Lotti's representative office in Indonesia and named two government officials as suspects in the case. Since 2010, the World Bank has made public its list of referrals to national authorities, which includes more than 150 referrals.
"INT referrals represent an important input to the fight against corruption. As with the Norwegians, we appreciate our close working relationship with British authorities. We are also monitoring action by Bangladeshi authorities on four cases where criminal proceedings against wrongdoers are warranted," said McCarthy. "In the United States, we are encouraged by the depth of our collaboration with investigative bodies and are looking at ways to replicate this goodwill in other areas. Such level of commitment by national authorities speaks directly to the critical question of how best to manage projects in countries where patterns of misconduct prevail and where there is a failure to take criminal action to counter corruption. Our efforts to support prosecutions by national authorities have seen fluctuating progress, but we are pressing ahead even where we have experienced disappointing reactions by some authorities."
Complementing its work with national authorities, INT is preparing to launch a Global Threat Assessment in cooperation with the International Criminal Court, Interpol, the UK Serious Fraud Office and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).
"What we are trying to do here is examine the key intersections between corruption risk, organized crime and money laundering on the one hand and the institutional vulnerability in developing countries on the other," said McCarthy. "This work will be a critical input to the governance and anticorruption work that the World Bank is focusing on in the post-crisis world."