World Bank initiates anti-corruption network

09/10/2010 | Phil Thornton

The World Bank is putting together an international network of anti-corruption investigators, as it steps up efforts to root out graft from its multi-billion dollar global investment programme

McCarthy: sanctions hurt

 McCarthy: sanctions hurt
Leonard McCarthy, the former head of South Africa’s anti-corruption unit who was brought in by the Bank to boost its anti-bribery efforts, told Emerging Markets the network will officially launched in December.

The International Corruption Hunters Network will bring together 250 agencies from 120 countries. These include USAID, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, the International Criminal Court and Interpol, with which the bank has signed cooperation agreements.

“You’d be surprised how many roads lead to London, New York and Washington – and we wanted to make sure the exchange of information is much more effective than [it has been] in the last five years,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy, who is the bank’s vice president of institutional integrity – known as INT – said the network would make it easier for investigators to pool information, and ensure that companies involved in bribery by one organisation would be debarred from bidding for work from partner organisations.

“We wanted to get attorney generals, heads of corruption agencies and directors of public prosecutions around the table from north and south in the fight against international bribery,” he said.

The World Bank has signed a series of agreements with other multilateral banks to ensure that companies are barred from all potential contracts. This week the Asian Development Bank blocked three Indian companies that had been debarred by the World Bank – the first cross-debarment since an agreement was signed in April.

“Companies that are barred by the bank and put up their hands in other parts of the world get barred automatically,” McCarthy said. “Right-minded CEOs tell us sanctions hurt them, because it deprives them of economic opportunity, over and above the fact that it hangs a label round their necks.”

McCarthy was speaking ahead of the publication yesterday of the latest INT annual report, which showed a 238% rise in the number of investigations completed in the year to June 2010 compared with the previous year.

These included a number of high profile cases including the six-year debarment of Macmillan Limited, the UK publishing firm, as part of a negotiated settlement after the company admitted it had paid bribes in an attempt to win a contract in Southern Sudan.

OOO Siemens, a Russian subsidiary of Siemens AG, was barred from bidding for four years after it admitted failing to disclose a longstanding relationship with the design consultant for a Moscow road for which it was bidding to provide the traffic control system.

However the vast majority of the companies debarred in the latest year – 31 out of 45 – were from Bangladesh, where the bank uncovered corruption relating to a number of education projects. Six more were from India.

Before joining the bank in June 2008, McCarthy headed the Scorpions crime-fighting unit in South Africa that was established to fight high-profile corruption cases and scored successes against organized crime in a number of cases.

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