WASHINGTON Jan 30 The World Bank must not just
point fingers when it uncovers corruption, but should work with
countries to fix problems by sharing data and analysis on
effective ways to root out graft, the bank's head said on
Jim Yong Kim, in his first speech about the challenges of
fighting corruption since becoming president of the World Bank
in July, estimated that between $20 billion to $40 billion is
stolen from developing countries each year.
"It is not just standing back and pointing a finger, we have
to call it out when we see it and stick by our guns, but we feel
we also have a responsibility to do everything we can to help
people build those effective systems," Kim told the Center for
Strategic and International Studies.
The World Bank should not only gather and share data on
fighting corruption, but should also learn from the experiences
of governments that have successfully tackled graft, he said.
As examples, he noted that in Brazil the government has
tackled drug-infested slums and turned them into safer
neighborhoods, while in Italy the authorities have exposed tax
dodgers, and in India the government is grappling with
Corruption is a major impediment to development, he said,
saying that the World Bank should not shy away from publicly
"We have to send a signal that if we detect corruption we
will call it out and move forward, and will have to have a whole
discussion again" on a lending program," he said.
The World Bank has aggressively tried to toughen up on
corruption ever since former President Jim Wolfensohn condemned
the "cancer of corruption" in a speech in 1996.
Although World Bank lending is influenced by how a borrower
scores on governance and fighting corruption, the bank has long
wrestled over whether to suspend lending to a country when it
discovers corruption in bank-financed development projects, or
to keep the money flowing while fixing the problem.
Last year, Kim canceled a $1.2 billion credit for a
Bangladesh bridge project after the bank found "credible
evidence" of high-level corruption among Bangladeshi government
Later, the World Bank agreed to resume financing only after
the government took measures to address the problems.
"Our willingness to work in difficult situations and
appetite for measured risk should never be confused with a
willingness to tolerate corruption in bank projects and
activities," Kim added.