On behalf of the World Bank Group, I welcome all participants of the Fifth International Debarment Colloquium organized by the World Bank Group’s Office of Suspension and Debarment, and I thank you for your dedication and commitment to global anticorruption efforts.
Corruption harms the poor directly and indirectly, increasing costs and reducing access to basic services such as health, education and justice, which exacerbates inequality. It erodes trust in government, undermines the legitimacy of institutions, and deters the private investment necessary for sustained economic growth. These are the reasons why fighting corruption is a top priority of the World Bank Group and why we work with our clients and partners—in the public and private sector—to build transparent and accountable institutions and to reduce corruption. It is why we take very seriously any allegation of corruption in the projects we finance.
Debarment is a critical piece of the World Bank Group’s multi-faceted anti-corruption effort. The World Bank Group’s sanctions system, comprised of independent decision-makers, works with fairness and efficiency to guarantee due process to companies and individuals suspected of misconduct. When misconduct is substantiated, companies are debarred from engaging in any new Bank Group-financed activity.
Through our cross-debarment agreement with other Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs)—including the African Development Bank Group, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Inter-American Development Bank—the impact of debarment is amplified on a global scale. Together, we send a clear message that fraud and corruption will not be tolerated in the multilateral system. In the last ten years, the World Bank Group has recognized at least 440 debarments from other banks—and more than 520 of our own debarments were recognized by the other MDBs. Since the Bank Group’s sanctions system was created in 2007, it has adjudicated nearly 400 cases and sanctioned close to 700 firms and individuals.
With the unprecedented amount of multilateral financing and public spending going toward crisis aid and recovery efforts, the commitment of professionals like you will be critical in ensuring that not one dollar is lost to corruption. Ultimately, debarment provides assurances that governments and aid agencies will work only with reliable and ethical business partners when disbursing recovery aid.
Even in times of crises and disruption, such as those we are facing now, we should not stop learning from colleagues and partners around the world. Since the first time it was held, in 2012, the International Debarment Colloquium has expanded in size and scope, reflecting the growing interest of stakeholders from around the globe. This year, it has been adapted into a virtual format to ensure that this important engagement can continue.
At the World Bank Group, it is important for us to recognize that there are always opportunities for us to learn and listen from others to improve our own system’s effectiveness and fairness. The International Debarment Colloquium series enables us to continue discussions and compare various national and international suspension and debarment systems. By bringing together representatives from multilateral organizations, government, the private sector, and academia, this event reflects the World Bank Group’s constant efforts to improve the way we share knowledge and facilitate learning among stakeholders.
Together, and through programs like the International Debarment Colloquium, we can increase our impact through a more connected effort against fraud and corruption.
Managing Director and WBG Chief Administrative Officer