Sunday, July 8, 2012

Corruption Investigation Stymies World Bank Funding For Bangladeshi Bridge

Last year’s arrest of two former executives of Canadian engineering giant SNC Lavalin, coupled with ongoing construction corruption investigations in Canada and Bangladesh prompted the World Bank to announce June 29 that it has canceled funding participation in a $3 billion road and bridge project which would have included construction of the AECOM designed Padma Bridge southwest of Dhaka. The World Bank commitment of $1.2 billion in financing, withdrawn as a result of the corruption charges, leaves in limbo both the future of the project and the fate of financing commitments for an additional $1.7 billion promised from the government of Bangladesh, the Asian Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation and the Islamic Development Bank. Though Bangladeshi officials have promised to find another way to finance completion of the project, its future is imperiled with the World Bank out of the picture and corruption investigations underway since last September.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim approved the cancelation. The World Bank says it has presented credible evidence of a high level corruption conspiracy among Bangladeshi government officials, SNC Lavalin and others to Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith and Anti-Corruption Commission Chairman Ghulam Rahman. World Bank officials are urging the Bangladeshi government to prosecute anyone found responsible for corruption on the project.

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