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Fraud & Corruption

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  • What is the World Bank doing to fight corruption?
  • The Bank has identified corruption as among the greatest obstacles to economic and social development. It undermines development by distorting the rule of law and weakening the institutional foundation on which economic growth depends.

    Hundreds of governance and anti-corruption activities take place throughout the World Bank. These activities focus on monitoring staff conduct at the Bank, minimizing corruption in World Bank-funded projects, and helping countries improve their public sector and control corruption.

    As outlined in the World Bank's Strategy on Governance and Anti-Corruption, the Bank will continue to expand efforts in these areas on three fronts: At the country level, the Bank is helping countries build capable, transparent, and accountable institutions and design and implement anti-corruption programs.

    In Bank-funded projects, the Bank is minimizing corruption by assessing corruption risk in projects upstream, actively investigating allegations of fraud and corruption, and strengthening project oversight and supervision.

    At the global level, the Bank is expanding partnerships with multilateral and bilateral development institutions, civil society, the private sector, and other actors in joint initiatives to address corruption.

    We use our Poverty Reduction and Economic Management department, the World Bank Institute, the Legal Department, and Regional Operations to help governments and businesses open up to scrutiny in order to foster trust, credibility and confidence in our operations, increase accountability and put corruption control programs in place. The Office of Ethics and Business Conflict provides advice on internal ethical issues for Bank staff.

    Last of all, a team of investigators in the Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) is in place to uncover fraud and corrupt practices in Bank projects and to investigate allegations of possible staff misconduct involving significant fraud and corruption. In 2008, the Bank began implementing the 18 recommendations of the Independent Review Panel (Volcker Panel), which has begun to dramatically improve the Bank’s ability to ensure that funds reach their intended beneficiaries. INT has put in place an early warning system so that information gathered during investigations helps operational Bank staff make informed decisions about affected projects. The new Preventive Services Unit helps raise awareness of fraud and corruption risks; provides practical tools, training and advice to Bank staff; and conducts research to distill lessons learned from investigations that are incorporated into future projects.

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  • What happens to companies or people who are caught engaging in fraud or corruption with Bank money?
  • The companies or people engaging in fraud or corruption are held accountable for their wrongdoing. The World Bank's Sanctions Board can impose a range of penalties depending on the nature of the incident. The Sanctions Board can issue include a letter of reprimand, specifying actions that need to be taken by the party in question to prevent any further incidents, or debarment, whereby, whereby companies or individuals that engage in fraud and corruption are rendered ineligible from participating—either temporarily or permanently—in any further Bank-backed projects.

     

    In addition, the names of individuals or companies found to have committed wrongdoing are published on our website, along with their sanction. To date more than 350 firms and individuals have been added to the List of Debarred Firms.

     

    Finally, if the Integrity Vice Presidency substantiates findings of fraud or corruption, the Bank will refer cases to national authorities for prosecution. Referrals to member governments of fraud or corruption have resulted in more than 28 criminal convictions. In 2008, the Integrity Vice Presidency closed 243 investigations.

    For more information on this topic, see the World Bank Group's Annual Integrity Report 2008.

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  • How do I report possible fraud or corruption within the World Bank or Bank Group-financed projects?
  • The Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) investigates fraud and corruption allegations about World Bank staff and the projects we fund. There are several ways for Bank staff and the public to contact this department:

    • Submit complaints by email to investigations_hotline@worldbank.org
    • Use our hotline (1-800-831-0463) within the US. Outside the US, use the international AT&T operator to access the hotline. Please Note: The hotline is maintained by an outside vendor, is open 24 hours a day/seven days a week, and offers multi-language translation services. Anonymous calls are accepted. Please be as specific as possible. Include at least the basic details of who, what, when and where. Let us know how you can be reached, in case further information is required by investigators.
    • Mail particularly sensitive information to:
      PMB 3767
      13950 Ballantyne Corporate Place
      Charlotte, NC, 28277
      USA

    See the Integrity Vice Presidency for more information.

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  • How much Bank money is lost to corruption?
  • Corruption is a cancer and no country, rich or poor, is immune nor is a multilateral development institution. Fraud and corruption have undoubtedly occurred in Bank-funded projects, but it would be nearly impossible to determine how much Bank money might have been lost. Corruption on a world-wide, country-by-country basis has not been measured by anyone, given the difficulties and enormous costs of collecting quantitative data on the subject.

    Whatever the amount lost to corruption, even a small percentage is too much, given the dreadful conditions most of the world's population endures. Corruption sabotages policies and programs that aim to reduce poverty, so attacking fraud and corruption vigorously is critical to the achievement of our overarching mission to reduce poverty.

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Updated: June 2009




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