The World Bank Group (WBG) has recognised that the response to the coronavirus crisis is likely to increase corruption risks and practices that contribute to illicit financial flows (IFFs), and may also introduce new risks according to two senior WBG officials.
Giuliana Dunham Irving and Ryan Velandria McCarthy say in a joint blog that the increased risks reflected in the crisis underscore the importance of international coordination in the fight against corruption, and they are particularly concerned that so far there has been too little emphasis on the recipients of bribes and favours.
Supply side focus
The officials explain that the group has generally considered cases involving corruption and IFFs against private bidders and consultants involved in WBG operations – the “supply side” actors in corruption schemes who pay bribes to public officials.
Only in very limited circumstances they say has the WBG’s sanctions board asserted jurisdiction to sanction public officials.
Alternative means to address misconduct committed by government officials are available they say, but they feel these alternative means are not effective or underutilised for a variety of reasons.
Recipients of bribes unchecked
This means that the “demand side” – actors seeking corrupt payments – go unchecked.
This is a challenge facing anti-corruption systems across multilateral development banks and other institutions according to the officials.
They say the special session of the UN General Assembly against corruption, which is scheduled for the first half of 2021, provides an opportunity to explore ways to strengthen international coordination in addressing this demand side of corruption – filling a gap in the international anti-corruption toolkit.
Any proposal to fill this gap deserves serious consideration the officials conclude.
Giuliana Dunham Irving and Ryan Velandria McCarthy’s joint blog, What we’ve learned at the World Bank Group about international cooperation, can be found here.
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