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Fighting Corruption: Making Development Work

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The World Bank has a clear vision:  A world free of poverty.  When integrity prevails, projects deliver and the poor benefit.  When they fail, development is set back and the poor suffer. That‘s why at the World Bank, we take the position that Rule of Law equals Development.  In the Bank’s pursuit of results, openness and accountability, we assert integrity in our operations, without reservation.  At the heart of our strategy is a commitment to remove the conditions that dent international security and make corruption flourish.

And our results show.  We completed 117 investigations in FY10, with 45 debarments of firms and individuals for engaging in wrongdoing. Our investigative findings have been referred to the relevant authorities, including governments, to correct, pursue, investigate and report back. Hundreds of sanctions applications have been brought before our sanctions tribunals. 

Companies fear debarment because it taints their reputation and deprives them of business.  We also meet those defendants who are in a confessing state of mind, through our Voluntary Disclosure Program, provided they are honest and the outcome is equitable. 

The World Bank is also shifting the corporate temperature, by entering into settlements with companies who adopt a pragmatic approach by admitting wrongdoing, accepting punishment and undertaking to clean up their business. These settlement agreements in Siemens, Macmillian Ltd., and Lotti speak for themselves: they all included a significant period of debarment and one included a significant payment of restitution.

Public sanctioning is a critical tool in deterring corruption. The Bank has been a lead force, pushing for the adoption of the Cross Debarment Accord, and urging other leading international financial institutions to expand and harmonize the efforts to combat corruption.  Through our work in the last 2 years, we have assisted the Bank in preserving hundreds of thousands of dollars through suspended disbursement; securing significant returns in repayments, in addition to the $100m settlement with Siemens and the $350,000 restitution payment by Lotti.

Topical as the subject is, corruption hunters committed to hunt for and forfeit what belongs to their people, will find a strong ally in the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) initiative.  As its name suggests, StAR focuses on the recovery of stolen assets by freezing, preserving and returning ill-gotten gains.  Money is a great equalizer. If the unjustly-enriched are deprived, our world seems a fairer place.

Within African lore there is this maxim:  “Do not follow the path.  Go where there is no path; to begin the trail.”  That’s why Bank President Robert Zoellick convened an alliance of 286 law enforcement officials last December.  And why today, as part of the Bank-IMF Spring Meetings, we are engaging with six of the world’s top law enforcement officials about how to change societies through resilient investigations and hard prosecutions.  We do this because for us, effective law enforcement is central to development.


Press release



Leonard McCarthy

Former Integrity Vice President

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