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WB advances support for collective action against corruption in FY 2023

BI Report || BusinessInsider

Published: 11:26, 3 October 2023  
WB advances support for collective action against corruption in FY 2023

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The World Bank bolstered its engagement with partners to strengthen global collective action against corruption over the past year, as highlighted in its Sanctions System Annual Report for fiscal year 2023, which was released on Monday.

The independent offices of the World Bank’s Integrity Vice Presidency (INT), Office of Suspension and Debarment (OSD), and Sanctions Board together comprise the institution’s sanctions system and are charged with addressing allegations of fraud and corruption within World Bank operations.

The offices’ joint annual report highlights the fair, impartial, and transparent process for investigating these allegations and determining appropriate sanctions against companies and individuals deemed to have engaged in such misconduct.

“Corruption is corrosive to development and undermines the progress that we aspire to achieve,” stated Shaolin Yang, Managing Director and World Bank Chief Administrative Officer, in the report’s foreword.

“The victims of corruption are the people whose lives should be improved by the projects we invest in. We will not waver in our efforts to ensure that the World Bank’s development resources are used transparently, accountably, and only for their intended purposes.”

Beyond this key anticorruption function, the World Bank redoubled its contribution to advancing the global anticorruption agenda through multiple efforts. This year, it revitalized the World Bank’s International Corruption Hunters Alliance (ICHA) forum, bringing together more than 350 frontline actors to help strengthen the global network of anticorruption partners.

Co-hosted by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and held in Abidjan, this was the first ICHA forum to be convened in an African country.

In addition, the World Bank worked with its multilateral development bank (MDB) peers to further harmonize their integrity frameworks, adopting the “MDB General Principles for Business Integrity Programmes.”

The World Bank also generated new knowledge on the topic of Supranational Responses to Corruption, and provided a comprehensive review of the World Bank Sanctions Board’s jurisprudence since its inception in the Sanctions Board Law Digest.

The World Bank’s sanction system addresses sanctionable misconduct through a multi-stage process. INT works to detect, deter, and prevent fraud and corruption in World Bank operations.

OSD, as the sanctions system’s first tier of adjudication, is tasked with impartially reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence from INT’s investigations and recommending appropriate sanctions.

The Sanctions Board, an independent administrative tribunal, serves as the second and final tier of review for contested sanctions cases.

In fiscal year 2023, the World Bank sanctioned 23 firms and individuals with debarment with conditional release, making them ineligible to participate in project and operations financed by the institutions of the World Bank.

The institution also recognized 44 cross-debarments from the multilateral development bank (MDB) parties to the Agreement on Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions, while 12 World Bank debarments were eligible for recognition by other MDBs.

The World Bank also engaged with sanctioned companies and individuals working to meet their conditions for release from sanction.

Through these engagements, which often require sanctioned entities to strengthen their integrity compliance programs, the World Bank supports cleaner business environments in the countries where it operates.

In fiscal year 2023, the World Bank removed 17 entities from sanction and converted the sanction of one entity from debarment with conditional release to conditional non-debarment.

A full list of the firms and individuals currently debarred by the World Bank can be found here: www.worldbank.org/debarr.

Additional Fiscal Year 2023 Highlights

The offices of the sanctions system maintained the World Bank’s commitment and vigilance against corruption in the projects it finances, holding companies and individuals engaged in misconduct to account. In fiscal year 2023:

  • INT received 4,646 complaint submissions, of which 292 were determined to be actionable. INT opened 64 new and closed 44 existing external investigations. INT submitted 13 sanctions cases and six settlements for review.
  • OSD made determinations regarding 12 cases and reviewed five settlements, temporarily suspended 11 firms and eight individuals, and sanctioned 11 respondents via uncontested determinations.
  • The Sanctions Board published four fully-reasoned decisions resolving four contested sanctions cases against six respondents. The Sanctions Board convened for hearings in three of those cases.
  • Each of the imposed sanctions related to a finding that the firm or individual engaged in at least one of the institution’s five sanctionable practices—fraud, corruption, collusion, coercion, or obstruction—in connection with a World Bank-funded project.
  • The Integrity Compliance Office (ICO) sent 21 notices to newly sanctioned parties on their conditions for release from sanction and engaged with 91 sanctioned parties towards meeting their conditions for release.
  • Beyond the core mandate of the World Bank sanctions system in fiscal year 2023:
  • INT pursued 28 cases of alleged fraud and corruption involving World Bank staff and 18 cases involving corporate vendors. INT substantiated misconduct allegations in three World Bank staff cases and in four corporate vendor cases.