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World Bank appoints former ICC prosecutor to investigate corruption in Bangladesh

The World Bank [official website] announced [press release] Friday that former International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [JURIST news archive] will audit an investigation conducted by the Anti-Corruption Commission of Bangladesh (ACC) [official website] into whether there are corrupt officials involved in the Padma Multipurpose Bridge project [official profile]. On June 29, the World Bank announced [press release] that, based partly on ACC findings, it had reason to believe there was a conspiracy among many of the leaders of the project, including Bangladeshi government officials. In response, it canceled the $1.2 billion line of credit for the project. However, on September 20, the World Bank decided to consider resuming the project [press release] in light of Bangladesh's agreement to fulfill certain requirements, which were announced Friday:

  • to place all public officials suspected of involvement in the corruption scheme on leave from government employment until an investigation is complete
  • to appoint a special inquiry and prosecution team within the ACC to handle the investigation
  • to grant access to all investigative information to an external panel of internationally recognized experts who will advise the Bank and co-financiers on the credibility of the government's investigations
  • and to accept an alternative project implementation arrangement which gave co-financiers greater oversight over procurement processes
The External Panel of International Experts the World Bank will review the ACC's findings and whether or not the project has complied with the above requirements. Also appointed to the panel was Timothy Tong, former commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Richard Alderman, former director of the UK Serious Fraud Office. If the World Bank receives a positive report from the panel, it will resume financing the project.

Moreno-Ocampo's nine-year term to the ICC recently ended, and in June, Gambian war crimes lawyer Fatou Bensouda [official profile] was sworn in [JURIST report] to succeed him. Also in June, Moreno-Ocampo called for economic or other aid to be refused to countries that assist Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir [ICC materials; JURIST news archive] in evading an arrest warrant that was issued against him in 2010. Moreno-Ocampo also predicted [JURIST report] in April that fugitive Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony [BBC backgrounder] would be arrested within the year.

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