World Bank gets tougher on corruption, debars US company in Ghana project for 12 years

The World Bank is getting tougher on corruption with the announcement of a 12-year debarment of a US company that was working on a number of development projects across the world including Ghana.

The World Bank says in a press statement copied to that it is taking anti-corruption enforcement to a new level with the announcement of the debarment of two companies and, separately, the first-ever World Bank cross-debarments of firms, for engaging in corrupt and fraudulent practices in development projects.

The company, Kwaplah International Trading Co., Inc.,  and its owner, Mr. Sherlock Mahn, together with any organization they directly or indirectly control, have been debarred for 12 years for engaging in corrupt and fraudulent practices in World Bank-financed projects implemented in seven countries. The countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Ghana, Gambia and Liberia.

The Bank says this is the second-longest debarment since it began sanctioning firms in 1999.

According to the Bretton Woods institution, the World Bank’s Sanctions Board took into account the multiplicity of sanctionable practices committed by the company among other considerations in making its decision.

Commenting, the World Bank Vice President for Integrity (INT), Leonard McCarthy, said, “These enforcement actions are timely, coming as they do just before our meeting next week with the International Corruption Hunters Alliance.  Our hope is that the Alliance will facilitate our investigations and increase their impact to further eliminate fraud and corruption risks impacting development resources.”

In addition, the World Bank Sanctions Board has debarred another company, which name it did not provide for three years for engaging in fraudulent practices in a Bank-financed project in Albania.  The debarment may be reduced to two years upon implementation of an effective corporate compliance program.

These rulings, the Bank indicates are eligible for cross debarment under the April 2010 Agreement for Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions entered into by the African Development Bank Group, Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank Group and the Inter-American Development Bank Group.

Under the agreement, it says, entities debarred by one multilateral development bank (MDB) may be sanctioned for the same misconduct by other participating development banks, which translates into collective enforcement action.

Based on that agreement, the World Bank also announced its first cross-debarments, sanctioning 12 companies previously debarred by the Asian Development Bank for engaging in fraudulent and corruption practices in some of their projects.

“Since the signing of the Cross-Debarment agreement earlier this year, INT has worked diligently with our MDB partners to ensure that enforcement is not delayed,” said McCarthy.

“This enforcement action is sending a very powerful signal of how the global anticorruption landscape is fast forwarding.  This progress cannot be reversed,”he added.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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