World Bank bans Kwaplah Int, Elkri

By: Daniel Nonor

Robert Zoellick, World Bank President

World Bank Group has banned Kwaplah International Co. Inc, a US-based company and its owner, M. Sherlock Mahn, together with any organization they directly or indirectly control for 12 years for engaging in corrupt and fraudulent practices.

According to the Bank, its financed projects implemented by the company in Ghana, Gambia, Liberia, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Ukraine were shrouded with corrupt and fraudulent practices.

In addition, the World Bank Sanctions Board debarred another company, Elkri for three years for engaging 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.

The announcement comes on the eve of the International Corruption Hunters Network meeting, which takes place December 6 8 at the World Bank’s headquarters.

This is the second-longest debarment since the Bank began sanctioning firms in 1999. In making its decision, the World Banks Sanctions Board took into account the multiplicity of sanctionable practices committed by the company among other considerations.

This Sanctions Board Decision has laid down some brightline rules, following an extensive INT investigation that crossed multiple jurisdictions, said Leonard McCarthy, World Bank Vice President for Integrity (INT). Companies and individuals who misuse development resources should know that, together with our partners, we are stepping up the fight against fraud and corruption, and they will be caught, he added.

These rulings 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, 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 the 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.

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