World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick Welcomes Volcker Panel Review of the World Bank's Institutional Integrity Department

September 13, 2007

WASHINGTON, September 13, 2007 - World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick has expressed his appreciation for the report of the panel led by Paul Volcker, which reviewed the work of the Institutional Integrity Department (INT) in the context of the World Bank Group's governance and anticorruption strategy.

"This is an excellent and most useful report," Zoellick said. “The Volcker report makes clear the serious challenges ahead in overcoming the cancer of corruption in operations supported by the Bank and it offers constructive recommendations.  Now it will be up to all of us to move forward, as part of our on-going commitment to address this vital issue."

The Bank President said improving governance and overcoming corruption are critical factors to ensure development resources reach the poor who need them.  "Stealing from the poor is not acceptable," he said.

INT has the difficult job of investigating fraud and corruption in Bank-supported operations.  It also investigates allegations of staff misconduct and administers the Bank's Voluntary Disclosure Program, which encourages companies to adopt healthy business practices.  INT performs important work that should be recognized and strengthened.

"The World Bank Group needs a strong, professional Institutional Integrity Department, backed by management and supported by a Bank-wide commitment," Zoellick said. “As the report has explained, INT has achieved notable success, but we can do better and need to integrate its work into our operations more effectively and consistently."

The Volcker panel's detailed recommendations will be carefully and promptly considered by the World Bank Group.

As a first step, an internal working group from across the institution will be established to consider the panel's recommendations, in light of its ongoing internal work on a governance and anticorruption strategy.

The World Bank Group will also encourage public comment on the report, which will be considered by the working group.  A top priority will be defining a policy for disclosing information about INT's work to Bank staff and management, the Board of Executive Directors, governments, development partners and the public.

The World Bank Group also proposes to improve INT's effectiveness in the following areas:

The Bank will seek external comment on these initial proposals by posting them on the Bank's website, along with the Volcker panel's report and recommendations.

In considering the public comment, management and the working group will consult with the Bank's Board as an integral part of its deliberations prior to making final recommendations, which will be incorporated into the Bank's new Governance and Anticorruption Strategy.

"The World Bank Group operates as a public trust," Zoellick said.  "It must be committed more than ever to improving its work on governance and anticorruption at all levels, as fighting corruption is critical to achieving its mission of overcoming poverty and encouraging sustained growth.  As the Volcker report notes, there should be no illusions about the difficulty of the effort, yet the World Bank Group must continue to do better."

Zoellick expressed his personal thanks to all the members of the independent review panel led by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and including Gustavo Gaviria, a Colombian entrepreneur; John Githongo, a Kenyan anti-corruption crusader; Ben Heineman, former General Counsel of General Electric; Walter Van Gerven, a distinguished Belgian legal scholar; and Sir John Vereker, Governor of Bermuda and a former Permanent Secretary for the UK's Department for International Development.

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