WASHINGTON, October 22, 2009 — The World Bank took strong steps in the past fiscal year to address corruption risks and ensure anti-corruption remains a critical element of its development mission, a new report says.
During the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2009, the World Bank debarred 13 firms and individuals from participating in Bank-funded activities for engaging in fraud and corruption, according to the report. The Bank also developed enhanced due diligence tools to assist operational staff and finalized a settlement with Siemens AG, which had acknowledged past misconduct in its global business, according to the Annual Report of the World Bank's Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) for FY09.
"As the Bank Group ramps up its commitments to support countries affected by the global crisis, we must assure our donors and client governments that we are responsible stewards of funds; that we are doing enough to guard against delinquent companies and risk-prone sectors; and that we are helping governments show their people, through governance and anticorruption efforts, that they can have confidence in government and public institutions," said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick.
INT is mandated to investigate allegations of fraud and corruption in World Bank Group-financed projects as well as possible staff involvement in such misconduct. In addition, INT contributes to the World Bank's overall governance and anti-corruption agenda.
Guided by the 2007 recommendations of an Independent Review Panel headed by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, INT has increased its focus over the past year on mainstreaming preventive measures into projects and positioning integrity early on in the project cycle as part of the development solution. The report notes that the Bank has implemented all 18 recommendations of the Volcker report.
During this fiscal year, INT signed two cooperation agreements with the European Anti Fraud Office (OLAF) and the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) that allow for joint investigations and information sharing, respectively. In addition, INT organized regional meetings with national prosecution authorities creating the basis for an International Corruption Hunters Network which will be launched in 2010. Participating authorities agreed on a number of initiatives to enhance their fraud investigation and anticorruption efforts at global and regional levels.
"Over the past year, we intensified our efforts to ensure that a greater amount of Bank funds are recovered or saved as a result of INT work. The investigations we conducted generated a number of lessons that we are currently compiling as an important contribution to project teams and members of the international development community," said Leonard McCarthy, World Bank Vice President for Integrity. "Looking ahead, we are further developing our tools and networks among teams and clients to enhance the impact of INT’s investigations and preventive services."