Thursday, April 17, 2008

Administrative leave for fighting corruption?

A letter in the latest Economist;

Trouble at the World Bank

SIR – A particularly disturbing feature of the latest corruption scandal to hit the World Bank (“Dirty linen”, March 22nd) is the fact that it is not, or at least should not have been, news to the bank. Many staff at the bank working on projects financed by the bank knew about it for a long time, but were not listened to or did not dare raise the issues with their higher-ups. As I can testify from experience as a senior economist at the bank, this problem undermines the organisation's anti-corruption efforts. Everyone at the bank understands that being too frank or proactive about corrupt activities in one's projects may not be welcomed. Regrettably, the bank has not done much about it until now.

The long-promised reform of whistleblower protections led the bank's management to commission high-quality reports by external consultants including Robert Vaughn and Graham Scott. These reports contained many specific and sometimes far-reaching recommendations. Yet the set of reform measures that is on its way to being implemented is only a pale reflection of these prescriptions.

Yang-Ro Yoon
Senior human-development economist
World Bank
Washington, DC

The World Bank placed Ms Yoon on administrative leave in March.

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