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Meet Leonard McCarthy, Integrity Vice President


September 4, 2008—Two months into his tenure as the World Bank’s Integrity vice president, Leonard McCarthy has set ambitious short-term goals for himself and for INT. “My immediate priorities are to get our performance up, make the Volcker recommendations work optimally, and operate in constructive sync with other parts of the Bank,” he says.

“In doing so, we will have to heighten the sense of urgency; strike a balance between helping operational colleagues in Washington and investigating allegations abroad; make the links between corruption and development more clear; focus on the right priorities; and produce accelerated results for INT and the institution.”

Remarkably, he says all of this without appearing to take a breath.

A History of Fighting Corruption

A South African national with a background in law and prosecution, McCarthy previously headed the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) in South Africa—a unit known locally as the Scorpions. Asked how the unit got its name, McCarthy jokes, “It sounds less scary in Zulu.”
As director of the DSO, McCarthy provided strategic and operational oversight over information analysis, investigation, prosecution, and civil litigation, while managing a staff of more than 500. 

During his tenure, the directorate pursued, investigated, and prosecuted a number of high profile cases, often working closely with Scotland Yard, the FBI, the International Criminal Court, the European Anti-Fraud Office, and development agencies in the area of corruption. Prior to his work in the directorate, McCarthy was appointed director of public prosecutions by then President Nelson Mandela.

Bob Zoellick announced his selection of McCarthy to head INT on May 5, and McCarthy began at the Bank on June 25. McCarthy notes that Zoellick has provided strong leadership and support for INT and its mission. “The president has impressed upon me the importance of the Bank’s continuing success in the area of anti-corruption.”

INT by the Numbers

McCarthy has already tried to get a sense of the magnitude of the problem. “From what I have seen in reviewing INT’s investigative portfolio over the past few fiscal years, INT’s staff face a huge number of challenges, both in the complexity of cases, as well as the number of different sectors they must become conversant in to do their jobs properly.”  

“I decided to look at the numbers,” he says. “The Bank presently operates over 1,500 projects in some 127 countries in more than a dozen sectors, with a total net commitment greater than $110 billion. A rough analysis of the ratios over the last three years indicates that INT has been involved in 8 to 9 percent of Bank projects in that timeframe.”

Greater Transparency

McCarthy points to some recent progress, in terms of transparency as well as enforcement. “We announced the sanction of a firm in a major case in the Philippines on August 22, and just the day before we posted on our external website our second publicly available redacted Final Investigative Report, this one involving a case in Honduras.”

McCarthy said he thinks this increased transparency will help INT, both by showing that the Bank takes the issue of corruption seriously and holds wrongdoers accountable, and by removing some of the ‘mystique’ around INT’s operations. “I encourage staff to read these reports, as it will also give them a better sense of the complexities we in INT deal with.”

Other areas McCarthy said he was hoping to improve include moving forward quickly with additional “high value” sanctions, and meeting the timeframes for closing investigations recommended in the Volcker report. 

He also wants to increase the number and quality of referrals of wrongdoing to member governments, and move INT further into what he calls “anticipatory business—developing threat assessments that would be of value to the institution.” 

The establishment in INT earlier in the year of a Preventive Services Unit—another recommendation of the Volcker report—has already generated high demand for INT to share lessons from past investigations.

Looking Forward

Asked why he joined the World Bank, McCarthy says, “I’ve always been intrigued by the intersection between development dynamics, law, ethics, and economy, and I am committed to the vision and mission of the Bank.”

Since his arrival, McCarthy says he has been most impressed by the Bank’s staff. “It’s an institution full of good people doing good things, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

INT staff also come in for significant praise. “We have extremely competent, hard-working people in this unit. Their diligence, dedication, and capacity for work are staggering. I could have used some of them in Jo’burg.”

McCarthy stresses that it is critical to integrate INT within the Bank, and he described his initial plans to get that work underway. “Later in September, INT will be hosting all the Bank Group’s operational vice presidents, to share with them our strategic vision for this department and seek comments on how we can assist them in their own deliverables.

“We will also be embarking on an INT Integrity Week on October 28, 2008, which will be an opportunity to explain to a larger audience how INT works and what we set out to achieve.  From such input and advice, I am confident that we will emerge with greater consensus in positioning INT as a core business partner in the Bank Group.”

“INT is not alone in this effort,” McCarthy notes. “We are grateful to the many Bank staff who raise concerns with us, and we know that it is only by working together across the entire Bank Group that we can make a real difference in reducing the incidence of corruption in our projects, and measuring our impact.”

Contributed by David Theis, senior communications officer, INT

Last updated: 2008-10-29

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