Middle East Armenian Portal
Home   News   Forums Articles Directory Links Downloads Photos Services Events Calendar About us  
Archives
News > Pan-Armenian News > World Bank puts Armenian fraud case on hold


Anti-corruption campaign
The World Bank is helping Armenia fight corruption
Britain wants action on reports that a water project is mired in corruption.
 
Heather Stewart reports
 
Britain is urging the World Bank to investigate allegations of corruption and embezzlement in a $35m (£17m) water project in Armenia, which the Washington-based body says are only of 'medium priority'. Bruce Tasker, a British whistleblower, says he has presented the bank with evidence of large-scale fraud in a project to improve the water supply in the Armenian capital Yerevan, but it has so far refused to carry out a full-blown investigation.
 
With its conciliatory new boss Robert Zoellick at the helm, the World Bank is keen to make a fresh start after the humiliating departure of Paul Wolfowitz earlier this year. Wolfowitz stormed into the bank promising to crack down on corruption, but ended up being embroiled in an ethics scandal of his own concerning lavish pay rises for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza.

Persuading the world's richest countries that their taxpayers' money is being well spent is a critical part of Zoellick's job, but the Armenian case is just one of a backlog of allegations waiting to be examined by the Bank's Institutional Integrity Department - or INT, as it is known.
 
INT wrote to Washington-based pressure group the Government Accountability Project (Gap), which is backing Tasker's claims, saying the case was 'rank ordered "medium" priority, and as such remains in a queue pending the availability of investigative resources'.
 
The British Ambassador in Armenia has written to the World Bank, urging it to carry out a full investigation.
 
'We've run into a wall,' said Gap's director, Bea Edwards. 'We have extensive documentation. It involves high-level government officers, a lot of money and basic services. What else do they want? They've been completely unhelpful.'
 
She says the Armenian case is important, because it could point to potential problems in the way other World Bank projects are run, particularly in the former Soviet Union.
 
Tasker is a British engineer appointed by an Armenian parliamentary commission investigating the Yerevan scheme. He claims that as soon as he began to examine the details of the project, it became clear that it was riddled with corruption, 'from start to finish, from top to bottom. The fact is it was not an isolated case of a few thousand dollars here or there, it was tens of millions of dollars.'
 
The original purpose of the project was to repair Yerevan's pipelines, and improve the water supply to households, but he says that by the time the work got under way it had shifted to installing water meters instead.
 
Tasker claims contractors were able to pocket up to $10 profit on the sale of each meter by charging customers for installation. His commission was told that the average number of water meters per customer was 1.5.
 
The bank's failure to pursue the allegations underlines the critical findings of a panel chaired by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, which revealed serious weaknesses in the way the way INT investigates allegations of wrongdoing. INT is run by a Wolfowitz appointee, Suzanne Folsom. Volcker's team found that the unit had achieved 'some notable successes', but warned of 'serious operational issues and severe strains in relations' with other parts of the bank, and said its work had sometimes contributed to 'counterproductive relations' with both donor and recipient countries.
 
Wolfowitz's critics had accused him of cracking down hard on alleged corruption in countries where the US has a political axe to grind, but turning a blind eye to problems in more friendly regions of the world.
 
Jeff Powell, of pressure group the Bretton Woods project, said it was still too often left to politicians to decide which allegations to pursue. 'This case is indicative of the fact that senior management and the board of the World Bank have not taken seriously the issue of corruption,' he said.
 
A World Bank spokesman said he would not comment on a specific case.
 

The World Bank is helping Armenia fight corruption
Since 1996, the World Bank has launched more than 600 anti-corruption programs in almost 100 countries and this commitment has helped inspire a global response to the problem. At the same time, it closely monitors the projects it finances in an effort to ensure that they are free from corruption. In Armenia, a World Bank grant is bringing together government officials and civil society organizations on an anti-corruption strategy that takes into account the views of citizens. A review of the way national institutions are run, which was performed by the World Bank, has helped launch civil service reform.


ADDITIONAL READING ... ADDITIONAL CORRUPTION
 
We received the following message:
 
In the past few months, the Dutch HayPost Trust Management has uncovered actual facts to prove that Armenia ’s Ministry of Transport and Communications has – for years – embezzled billions of public and private funds through HayPost. In an attempt to clean up shop, HayPost Management has begun to re-systemize and transform its postal and financial programs with the purpose to help Armenia ’s postal system become one of the most competitive and comparable to international postal standards.
 
We have provided these embezzlement-related facts to the law enforcement authorities including to the Prime Minister, and now the Ministry of Transport has begun a campaign to exterminate the HayPost management considering that it has become a threat to its money laundering channels. In this respect, there is now a survey on the web site of the Ministry of Transport and Communications where which it has requested the ‘people’ to vote if they are pleased with the postal services and to use this as a mechanism to squeeze the new management out.
 
This survey is obviously controlled by the MTC (i.e. not objective), and it can easily do as it pleases, but regardless, we think it will be important for you to help us in any way possible and VOTE YES on www.mtc.am

Posted on Tuesday, October 02, 2007 (4525 reads), comments: 0
 
Post a Comment     Azad-Hye Forum
    Print News
Bookmark and Share


Announcements
Azad-Hye Diary
UAE Armenians
















   


Home · News · Forums · Articles · Directory · Links · Downloads · Photos · Services · Diary · Events Calendar · About Us

Copyright © Azad-Hye, 2003-2009. All Rights Reserved.