Save the date: February 1st, Compliance Event

The World Bank Group has strict policies with regards to fraud and corruption. At times

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it is obvious what is accepted and what’s not, but every company runs the risk of being confronted with compliance questions. This could be due to a local partner getting compromised or a local authority is putting you in a difficult position. How can you protect your company from compliance issues, especially when working in “difficult” markets? What should a solid company compliance program entail? How do you engage your supply chain?

The World Bank Group and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency are organizing a joint Compliance event on February 1st, 2019 in The Hague. The event promises to take a very practical approach and will be focused on shedding some light on the above highlighted issues and questions. The World Bank will be explaining the major do’s and don’ts when working with the Bank and what it means to be under investigation. Of major value will be the exchange of practical experiences discussing ways to avoid compliance issues.

If your company takes part in public procurement in developing countries this event will be informative! Admission will be restricted; the event is open only to Dutch companies with business activities in . More information will be released on the website of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, please save the date February 1st!

In preparation of the workshop we created a new fact sheet that gives companies a quick overview of the types of fraud and corruption, sanctions, the integrity guidelines, and where to report suspected fraud or corruption.

Below you can find a more elaborate description of the Investigations, Sanctions and Compliance of the World Bank.

External Investigations

Complaint Intake

INT performs an initial assessment of every complaint that it receives.  This assessment determines whether: the complaint relates to a sanctionable practice in World Bank Group-financed projects, the complaint has credibility and the matter is of sufficient gravity to warrant an investigation.  Complaints outside of INT’s jurisdiction are redirected to other areas of the World Bank Group as appropriate.  Complaints that fall under INT’s jurisdiction are investigated if they are determined to be of a higher priority.  When a complaint does not reach this threshold, INT works with Operational staff to address the issues raised.  In assigning priority, INT also considers the possible reputational risk to the World Bank Group, amount of funds involved and quality of the information or evidence in INT’s possession.

Investigation of Cases

Through investigations, INT ascertains whether firms and/or individuals have engaged in one of the World Bank Group’s five sanctionable practices.  Since an INT investigation is administrative in nature, the standard of proof is akin to a “balance of probabilities” and therefore lower than the criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  The World Bank Group, for that reason, has to prove that it is more likely than not that the alleged misconduct has occurred.  If INT finds sufficient evidence to prove the allegation, the allegation is considered substantiated.  The allegation is considered unsubstantiated if there was insufficient evidence to prove or disprove it, and unfounded if the allegation has no basis in fact.

Investigation Reports

When INT substantiates a case, it produces a Final Investigation Report (FIR).  In some cases, INT will produce an FIR even if there is not reasonably sufficient evidence to substantiate a complaint – for example, if INT believes that the investigation unearthed important lessons that should be shared with colleagues in the World Bank Group.  FIRs are sent to regional management for comment before being finalized and provided to the World Bank Group President.

INT strives to ensure that the maximum time between opening a case and completing an investigation report is twelve (12) months for normal cases and eighteen (18) months for complex cases.

FIRs also form the basis for two other INT outputs: referral reports, which INT sends to relevant national authorities if evidence indicates that the laws of a World Bank Group member country may have been violated; and redacted reports, which are provided to the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors and, after the completion of any related sanctions proceedings, posted on this site.

Internal Investigations

To maintain its credibility in the global anti-corruption arena, the integrity of the World Bank’s own operations is of the utmost importance.  In addition to investigating allegations of fraud and corruption involving Bank Group staff and corporate vendors, the Internal Investigations Unit mainstreams lessons learned through case studies, training and other activities and participates in outreach programs as a member of the Bank Group’s Internal Justice System to promote the reporting, detection and prevention of fraud and corruption within the Bank Group’s corporate arena.

Examples of allegations against staff within the Internal Investigations Unit’s investigative mandate include abuse of position for personal gain, misuse of Bank Group funds or trust funds, embezzlement, fraud, corruption and collusion, involving either Bank Group operations or in the administration of Bank Group business, and attendant conflicts of interest or lesser included acts of misconduct.

The Internal Investigations Unit is also responsible for investigating allegations against Bank Group corporate vendors involving fraud, corruption, collusion, coercion, or obstructive practices in support of “vendor eligibility reviews,” leading to corporate debarment proceedings.


When firms or individuals are found through an INT investigation to have engaged in fraudulent, corrupt, collusive, coercive or obstructive practices, the World Bank Group may impose a sanction such as debarment. Debarred entities are then ineligible to be awarded a World Bank Group-financed contract, either permanently for a designated period of time.  Sanctions hold wrongdoers accountable for their misconduct and help deter others from engaging in similar behavior.


Conditions for Release from WBG Sanction

Debarment with conditional release was established as the baseline WBG sanction, in part, to place greater emphasis on rehabilitation, such as by requiring sanctioned entities to develop and implement integrity compliance programs that are consistent with the principles set out in the WBG Integrity Compliance Guidelines.  In addition to serving a rehabilitative purpose, the implementation of such a program also seeks to reduce the likelihood of the sanctioned entity engaging in fraud or corruption in the future.

Engagement with WBG Integrity Compliance Office

Invitation:  All parties sanctioned with conditions for release come into the WBG Integrity Compliance Office portfolio, regardless of how the sanction was imposed.  Following the imposition of such a sanction, the Integrity Compliance Office invites the sanctioned party (entities and individuals) to engage with it in working toward satisfaction of such conditions.

Steps:  In engaging with a sanctioned entity, the Integrity Compliance Office first seeks to understand matters such as the entity’s: (i) size; (ii) corporate structure; (iii) organizational structure; (iv) operating model; (v) geographical areas of operation; (vi) sectoral areas of operation; (vii) risk profile; and (viii) existing integrity compliance-related controls (including any integrity compliance program).  Throughout the engagement, the Integrity Compliance Office works with the sanctioned entity, as well as independent integrity compliance monitors/advisors in some cases, to recommend enhancements to and assess the effectiveness of the entity’s integrity compliance-related controls.

Determination: In determining whether a sanctioned entity has met its conditions for release, the Integrity Compliance Officer assesses whether it has put in place integrity compliance-related controls that: (i) are tailored to its risks and profile; (ii) are consistent with the principles set out in the WBG Integrity Compliance Guidelines; and (iii) have a demonstrated record of implementation.

Collective Action

The ICO also encourages sanctioned parties, as well as released parties, to promote collective action for the advancement of integrity principles, such as through participation in workshops and mentorships.

The Summary of World Bank Group Integrity Compliance Guidelines incorporates standards, principles and components commonly recognized by many institutions and entities as good governance, and anti-fraud and -corruption practices.  They are not intended to be all-inclusive, exclusive or prescriptive; rather a party’s adoption of these Guidelines, or variants thereof, should be determined based on that party’s own circumstances.