Dhaka, November 28, 2012 – The External Panel of anti-corruption experts will arrive on December 1, 2012 for its second visit to assess whether the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has made progress in launching an investigation into evidence of corruption under the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project.
The World Bank announced the appointment of the panel on October 5, 2012. The three-member panel is chaired by Luis Moreno Ocampo, former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. The other two panel members are Timothy Tong, former commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, People’s Republic of China; and Richard Alderman, former director of Britain’s Serious Fraud Office.
“The people of Bangladesh know that the Padma Bridge will transform the economy of the southwest and reduce poverty more rapidly. They want to see the project implemented free of corruption that takes money out of the hands of the poor,” said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh. “The external panel of internationally-recognized experts will advise the World Bank and co-financiers on the adequacy of the government’s investigation.”
The original $1.2 billion World Bank credit for the bridge was cancelled on June 29, 2012 due to an insufficient response by Bangladeshi authorities to evidence of a conspiracy of corruption involving senior public officials.
Subsequently, additional actions were undertaken, and on September 20, 2012, the government agreed with the World Bank and the Padma Bridge co-financiers to:
- Place all public officials suspected of involvement in the corruption scheme on leave from government employment until the investigation is complete;
- Appoint a special inquiry and prosecution team within the ACC to handle the investigation;
- Grant access to all investigative information to an external panel of internationally-recognized experts to advise the Bank and co-financiers on the credibility of the ACC’s investigation; and
- Revise implementation arrangements for the project to give the World Bank and co-financiers greater oversight of procurement processes.
The panel was formed after the government requested the World Bank to reconsider the financing of the Padma Bridge. The panel made its first visit to Bangladesh in October 2012 to acquaint itself with efforts to date by the ACC, as well as Bangladeshi law and legal processes on conducting investigations. Following the panel’s first visit, the World Bank Integrity Vice Presidency provided the ACC with additional information on November 13, 2012. The panel discussed how it would work with the ACC, and encouraged the commission to progress from preliminary inquiry to a deeper investigation of corruption evidence.
In anticipation of the panel’s second visit to Dhaka, the Padma Bridge co-financiers gathered in Manila for preliminary discussions on revising project implementation arrangements. Adequate progress in investigating corruption evidence is necessary to allow project implementation to move forward.