Corruption in projects: World Bank to send team

Amitav Ranjan, August 13, 2008 Indian Express
New Delhi, August 12: The World Bank is sending a probe team in September to assess the corruption by multinational and Indian firms in its health projects worth $568.6 million before blocking sanctions, and imposing a five-year global ban on them and punishing bank officials.

Sources said, the Government — through a protocol signed between the two on July 31 — gave permission to the bank’s Integrity Vice- Presidency (INTVP) to examine individuals — including Government servants and firms — for preparing a prosecution case for its Sanctions Board.

“The INTVP inquiries are limited to determining whether the World Bank Group’s own rules, policies and procedures have been violated,¶ they said.

These would lead to issuing Notices of Sanctions Proceedings on firms and private individuals under the Bank’s Sanctions Procedures.

The “fact-finding¶ teamwould also be allowed to “interact¶ with India’s Central Bureau of Investigation in meetings convened by the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA).

Existing agreements between India and the bank “do not explicitly provide¶for questioning individuals and firms.

In return for this gesture, the bank will share its findings, evidence and related documents with the CBI, allow officials of its Department of Institutional Integrity (INT) to be interviewed and permit INTVP staff to stand as prosecution witness in Indian courts.

It will also share information with the Indian side on possible involvement of any government official for an “appropriate action¶ by the CBI.

The bank’s anti-fraud INT department discovered serious cases of corruption in five bank-financed health programmes dealing with tuberculosis eradication and malaria and HIV/AIDS control schemes during a Detailed Implementation Review (DIR) launched by it in 2006.

These projects, implemented between 1997 and 2003, include $114 million Malaria Control Project, $82.1 million Orissa Health Systems Development Project, $54 million Food and Drug Capacity Building Project, $193.7 million Second National HIV/AIDS Control Project and $124.8 million Tuberculosis Control Project.

The team will visit all project sites and buildings, inspect goods and equipment funded out of its levy and examine all documents and records pertaining to the projects to prepare the case reports.

As per the protocol, the DEA would be given an opportunity to comment on the draft reports prior to their finalisation.


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