Zoellick Orders Release of World Bank Report on Corruption in India Projects

18 January 2008

World Bank President Robert Zoellick ordered the disclosure recently of a World Bank investigation showing “serious incidents” of fraud and corruption in five Bank projects in India.

It was the first time the Bank had disclosed a “Detailed Implementation Review,” conducted by the Department of Institutional Integrity.  His action was praiseed by Transparency International-USA.

A Bank spokesman was unable to say for sure whether future such reports would be released, or whether Zoellick’s discretionary action presages a change in the Bank’s disclosure policy.

Transparency International-USA “applauded” the release of the report, which it said “makes clear that corruption hurts project implementation, and that the Bank’s supervision and evaluation systems failed.”

“The Bank’s decision to make the India Detailed Implementation review (DTR) public is a watershed event, expanding the Bank’s disclosure practices,” TI-USA said.  The group called for further public reporting from the Bank and India on “systematic reforms to address these deficiencies.”

Past INT reports—on Cambodia, Vietnam and Kenya—have not been released. They are less extensive than the India report, according to persons familiar with them.

A Bank official who discussed the release of the India report with freedominfo.org said the report on India did not contain any information that would jeopardize sources in the investigation. While declining to predict the release of future reports, the official said the release of the India report is “a very important decision that would be looked back on as a clue.”

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In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
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