World Bank Releases Sanctions Decisions

7 June 2012

The World Bank has begun releasing the full decisions of its Sanction Board, which considers whether  to bar companies from Bank-funded work.

Late last year the Bank started posting summaries of the Board’s decisions, and it took the next step on May 30 when it announced the release of seven decisions in eight cases.  

World Bank Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati said: “By publishing Sanctions Board decisions, we are making all parties involved in the sanctions process more accountable.  This move should deepen the deterrent effect of debarments and enhance the educational value of the Sanctions Board’s findings.” 

Anonymity, and a Work-Around

The decisions do not include the names of the respondents, however, this anonymity – purposeful for reasons of consistency with another Bank policy – is not complete. The names are part in the Bank’s press release announcing the availability of the decisions.

So to connect a decision on the list with a name, a diligent researcher could locate the press announcement about the decisions being released. Armed with the information from the press release, which includes names of respondents and the numbers of the decisions, a researcher could match the decision with the respondent’s name.  In fact, the press release online also links (by name of respondent) to the decision, so the best way to search for decisions may be through the release itself.  

This partial veil may seem peculiar, but the Bank is trying to treat its list of decisions as it does its list of debarments. The thinking is that the stain of sanction should not be forever recorded on the Bank’s website. Once sanctioned by the World Bank, firms are debarred for a period of time, but after that time runs out, they are dropped from the World Bank Listing of Ineligible Firms & Individuals.

There is no public Bank listing of past debarments.

The Sanctions Board is an independent administrative tribunal with a majority of external members. It serves as final decisionmaker in all contested sanctions cases.  Decisions are taken based on an adversarial process that includes written arguments and evidence and, where requested, an administrative hearing.

More than 530 firms and individuals have been sanctioned by the World Bank for fraud, corruption and collusion since the sanctions system was established in 1999. Most of these sanctions have been in the form of debarments, where firms or individuals are rendered ineligible to participate in Bank-financed operations.

From December 2011, the Sanctions Board Law Digest has made publicly available summaries of past cases and the legal principles applied over time.  (See previous report.)

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Filed under: IFTI Watch


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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