On October 7, the World Bank Group (the Bank) Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) released its Annual Update for the 2016 Fiscal Year (the FY2016 Report or the Report). The Report highlights INT’s efforts to safeguard Bank-funded procurement projects in the immediately preceding fiscal year, and sets out INT’s current and future policy, investigation, and enforcement goals.
What is the Integrity Vice Presidency?
The INT is an independent unit within the World Bank Group that investigates and pursues sanctions related to allegations of fraud and corruption in World Bank Group-financed projects. INT supports the main business units of the World Bank Group and external stakeholders, mitigating fraud and corruption risks through sharing investigative findings, advice, prevention and outreach efforts.
Focus on corruption in bank-funded projects – undisclosed agents and fraud
The Report highlights how corruption concerns in Bank-funded projects drive its investigations, and how the discovery of fraud or other sanctionable practices often serves as an indicator to INT of underlying corruption in Bank-funded contracts. As INT’s enforcement statistics for FY2016 and the discussion of those figures make clear, corruption and issues related to corruption were the most common sanctionable practice investigated by INT in 2016. Of the 48 cases under active investigation at the end of FY2016, however, the report notes that 24 of those investigations also involved elements of fraud and/or collusion.
INT highlights that even the elevated numbers of corruption-related cases do not tell the full story until one takes into account fraud and other allegations – such as undisclosed third party agents and fraudulent books and records – which often are used to debar companies and individuals where the evidence may not support a formal finding of corruption. Consistent with other sections of the report, INT may be highlighting these facts in order to counter past criticism that its efforts to investigate fraud have been focused on low-level conduct, such as certain kinds of falsified bid submission documentation, rather than corrupt practices where INT nevertheless suspects it is present.
Read more about the INT at Lexology.