The World Bank and other donors have vowed to fight corruption, which undermines development and democracy. Yet their focus is consistently only on corrupt acts perpetrated by poor country governments, when it actually takes two to tango.
"There is always somebody who pays, and international business is generally the main source of corruption", said none other than the billionaire financier, George Soros.
Multinational companies use bribes as a way to win contracts or concessions. These bribes are conservatively estimated to run to US$80 billion a year - roughly the amount that the UN believes is needed to eradicate global poverty. (http://www.oecd.org//daf/nocorruption/faq.htm, quoted in Exporting Corruption: Privatisation, Multinationals and Bribery, Briefing 19, The Cornerhouse, June 2000).
On August 15, 2003, a Lesotho Appeal Court dismissed the appeal of Acres International, a Canadian engineering consulting firm, to a conviction of bribery on their role in winning contracts to a multi-billion dollar dam project, backed by the World Bank. The Lesotho Highlands Water Project has been controversial since its proposal, for its negative social and environmental impacts.
Acres have worked on several controversial projects - such as the Three Gorges Dam, the Bujagali Dam in Uganda, now stalled on account of corruption, and the Nam Theun 2 Dam in Laos.
Whereas the World Bank has an anti-corruption policy, it has yet to bar Acres from future contracts.
We ask you to write to the World Bank President, copying your MP and the Canadian Executive Director at the Bank, calling on them to put their mouth where their money is in regards to corruption. [Sample letter | Contact information | Action Alert]
We also ask you to write to EDC, copying your MP, another source of support for Acres International, calling on EDC to review all on-going contracts with this criminal company, and to bar them from future contracts. [Sample letter | Contact information | Action Alert]
(1) We expect the Bank to disbar Acres now that they have been found guilty of corruption on a World Bank contract. Anything less than disbarment would undermine not only the World Bank's own corruption policy, but also its poverty alleviation objectives.
(2) EDC and the World Bank need to be proactive in weeding out bribe-givers from its list of clients. The public needs assurances that public financial institutions are not going to support companies that have been convicted of corruption.