WASHINGTON, October 18, 2021 — The World Bank Group today affirmed its vigilance against fraud and corruption in the development projects it finances and its commitment to support the highest integrity and transparency standards in public finance, with the release of its Sanctions System Annual Report for fiscal year 2021.
The report, which is prepared jointly by the World Bank Group’s Integrity Vice Presidency (INT), Office of Suspension and Debarment (OSD), and Sanctions Board, illustrates how the institution’s sanctions system has grown and evolved to meet the challenges and opportunities of an ever-changing global anticorruption landscape.
“The World Bank Group is firmly committed to placing governance, anticorruption, and transparency front and center in our work. A stable, respected rule of law is essential to good development outcomes. An important piece of our anticorruption efforts is the World Bank Group’s sanctions system,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass, who also penned the report’s foreword.
Over the past year and despite continued restrictions and impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the offices of the World Bank Group’s sanctions system continued to detect, deter, and prevent fraud and corruption in development operations financed by the institution. The World Bank Group’s sanctions system also continued to fairly, objectively, and transparently adjudicate the cases of firms and individuals accused of sanctionable misconduct.
In fiscal year 2021, the World Bank Group sanctioned 57 firms and individuals, of which 54 were debarred with conditional release, making them ineligible to participate in projects and operations financed by institutions of the World Bank Group. In addition, three firms were sanctioned with conditional non-debarment, leaving them eligible to participate in World Bank Group-financed operations after meeting certain agreed-upon conditions.
The institution also recognized 92 cross-debarments from other multilateral development banks (MDBs), while 45 World Bank Group debarments were eligible for recognition by other MDBs. A full list of the firms and individuals currently debarred by the World Bank Group can be found here: www.worldbank.org/debarr.
Fiscal Year 2021 Summary
The ability of the World Bank Group’s sanctions system staff to be adaptive, agile, and flexible under the challenging circumstances of the past year reflects their professionalism and dedication to supporting the World Bank Group’s mission. In fiscal year 2021:
- INT received 4,311 complaint submissions, opened 347 new external preliminary investigations, and started 40 new and closed 28 existing external investigations. INT submitted 17 sanctions cases, and 18 settlements to OSD.
- OSD reviewed 20 cases and 18 settlements, temporarily suspended 19 firms and four individuals, and sanctioned 29 respondents via uncontested determinations.
- The Sanctions Board published five fully-reasoned decisions resolving six contested sanctions cases against eight respondents. The Sanctions Board convened virtual hearings in four of those cases. In addition, the Sanctions Board published 1 fully-reasoned decision on a request for reconsideration of a previous Sanctions Board decision.
- Each of the sanctions related to a finding that the firm or individual engaged in at least one of the institution’s five sanctionable practices—fraud, corruption, collusion, coercion, or obstruction—in connection with a World Bank Group-funded project.
- The Integrity Compliance Office (ICO), which works with sanctioned firms and individuals to institute reforms in alignment with the World Bank Group’s Integrity Compliance Guidelines and to reduce the opportunities for future misconduct, engaged with 118 sanctioned parties toward meeting their conditions for release.
- In addition, the ICO determined that 30 entities had met their conditions for release from sanction and that two entities had met the conditions for the conversion of their debarments with conditional release to conditional non-debarments.
- The offices of the sanctions system also continued to share their anticorruption knowledge and insights:
- INT developed and facilitated trainings to more than 1,000 project staff and government officials across multiple regions aimed at building local capacity to identify, manage, and mitigate integrity risks in development operations.
- OSD organized and hosted the Fifth International Debarment Colloquium in a virtual format to discuss trends in suspension and debarment at the national, international, and multilateral levels.
- OSD published the first Global Suspension & Debarment Directory, which captures data and information on the exclusion systems of 23 different countries and institutions.
- OSD and the Sanctions Board Secretariat jointly organized and hosted the inaugural MDB workshop among first-tier officers and appellate body secretariats to discuss substantive sanctions matters and generate new insights to inform policy discussions within the respective institutions.
- The Sanctions Board Secretariat authored timely thought pieces on the topics of tackling the ‘demand side’ of corruption and building a credible and fair sanctions system through diversity.