EU Ombudsman Urges EIB to Release Zambian Mine Report

18 December 2014

The European Ombudsman has recommended that the European Investment Bank release a redacted version of a report concerning a mine in Zambia.

The Bank had rejected a request from Christian Aid to publish a report on its investigation into tax evasion allegations against Mopani Copper Mines. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, whose decisions are advisory,  concluded:

The EIB should reconsider its refusal to grant access to the investigation report of its Inspectorate-General and decide either to grant access to a redacted version of the report or, should this not be possible, to at least provide the complainant with a meaningful summary of the main findings of the investigation report.

The ombudsman also said the EIB did not comply with the deadlines set out in its Transparency Policy, which is now under review. (See related FreedomInfo.org report on the ombudsman’s comments on an EIB draft policy and report on policy recommendations from nongovernmental organizations.)

The ombudsman concludes that the EIB, “three years after its investigation was closed, failed to provide in its decision of 25 July 2014 sufficient reasoning as to why the disclosure of the investigation report of 16 November 2011 could specifically and actually undermine its investigations.” She continued, “This constitutes an instance of maladministration.”

The ombudsman recommends release of a redacted report, saying:

It is relevant here to draw the EIB’s attention to the practice followed in similar cases by the World Bank’s Integrity Vice Presidency. The latter’s website contains numerous examples of “Redacted Investigation and Forensic Audit Reports[29].  Through these investigations, the Integrity Vice-Presidency ascertains whether firms and/or individuals have engaged in one of the Work Bank Group’s five sanctionable practices which cover fraud and corruption. The EIB might thus take inspiration from this practice as a means to increase transparency and reinforce the public trust in the Bank’s efforts to fight fraud and corruption.

 

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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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