April 23, 2006

Wolfowitz positions World Bank for corruption battle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz
said on Sunday the development institution would take a tougher
stand in the battle against corruption because it obstructs
efforts to reduce poverty in poor countries.

Addressing the World Bank's development committee of 184
member countries, Wolfowitz said he was expanding the bank's
work on transparency and anti-corruption efforts in countries
where it has development programs.

"Fighting corruption is a long-term commitment which
requires a long-term strategy to progressively and
systematically attack the problem," he said in speech notes.

"At country level, governance and anti-corruption measures
will be strengthened in all bank instruments, including loans,
grants, research and technical assistance," he added.

In the past few months, Wolfowitz has shown himself a bold
opponent of malfeasance, cutting off lending to Chad when the
government made a grab for oil profits meant to help the poor,
and pushing for more transparency in the Republic of Congo's
oil sector when the country sought debt relief.

He has also held back approval of World bank projects in
Kenya and India because of corruption concerns.

Wolfowitz said the bank would focus on strengthening
judicial and civil service systems in developing countries and
will work with rich nations to prevent corrupt officials from
funneling stolen money into foreign bank accounts.

He said private companies will also be held more
accountable for wrongdoing and "blacklisted" and kept from
doing business with the World Bank if they break the rules.

The World Bank is developing anti-corruption strategies for
projects and will publish those on the Internet to ensure
resources are not diverted, Wolfowitz added.