The World Bank has taken a step toward greater transparency in its anticorruption activities, publishing the full text of decisions issued by its Sanctions Board to debar companies that allegedly engaged in fraud or other illegal practices on projects the bank finances.
The number of firms or individuals debarred from bank-funded projects also has risen compared with the numbers several years ago.
The initial group of published rulings, announced on May 30, includes debarments of eight companies in a range of industries. No U.S.-based construction firms are among the eight firms cited.
One of the eight is Beijing-based Zhonghao Overseas Construction Engineering Co., which was debarred for two years for alleged fraud on a contract to rebuild a section of road in southern Sudan. The board’s decision permits a conditional early release from the debarment after one year. The company did not reply to an e-mailed ENR request for comment.
In the past, the bank would publish just the name of the company or person sanctioned, the type of offense and the penalty imposed. Under the new policy, announced last December, the Sanctions Board is releasing the full, detailed decisions in its cases.
Elizabeth Lin Forder, the Sanctions Board Secretary, told ENR, "The reason the bank started publishing these decisions is basically to show how these cases are carefully considered and where the bank draws the line against potential fraud, corruption and collusion in the projects it finances."
She adds, "We hope that the publication of these decisions will serve to educate the general public and also deter other contractors from making the same mistakes."
The World Bank has long been a major provider of funds for construction projects. In fiscal 2011, its infrastructure aid totaled $19.7 billion, which was 46% of its overall financial assistance. The infrastructure total included $8.6 billion for transportation, $5.8 billion for energy and $4.6 billion for water.
The bank also has increased its debarment actitivity. In the first five months of calendar 2012, 72 companies or persons were debarred. That compares with two or three firms per year in the 2006-2008 period, says David Theis, a bank spokesman.
The Sanctions Board, which was established in 2007, is a seven-person tribunal. It has four external members and three members who work for the bank. It replaced a sanctions committee composed of all in-house members.