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World Bank ramps up debarment enforcement, adopts new sanction disclosure practice

The World Bank debarred 267 firms and individuals last year, including cross debarments, in a big jump from prior years.

For comparison, in 2019, the Washington, D.C.-headquartered international financial institution debarred 183 firms and individuals.

In 2018, it debarred 155 firms and individuals.

So far in 2021, the World Bank has debarred twelve entities or individuals. Eleven were cross-debarments (debarments first imposed by another international financial institution), and one was a four-year debarment of Vietnam-based VN1 Industrial Group for “corrupt practices.”

Beginning January 1, 2021, the World Bank changed its publication practices and in all cases will now state the sanctionable practice for why the firm or individual has been debarred.

The World Bank issued — by our count — just 19 press releases announcing specific debarment enforcement actions in 2020. It hasn’t issued any press releases about debarments in 2021. It continues to show all debarments on its website.

World Bank debarments longer than 365 days qualify for cross-debarment by the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the African Development Bank.

Debarment enforcement at the World Bank is handled by the Sanctions System, which is comprised of the Integrity Vice Presidency (INT), the Office of Suspension and Debarment (OSD), and the Sanctions Board.

The INT is an independent unit within the World Bank Group that investigates and pursues sanctions related to fraud and corruption allegations in World Bank-financed projects.

The OSD provides the first level of adjudication in the World Bank’s suspension and debarment system.

The Sanctions Board consists of seven external judges. It is an independent administrative tribunal that serves as the final decision-maker in all contested cases of sanctionable misconduct occurring in development projects financed by the World Bank. According to the World Bank, the Sanctions Board functions as the second tier of the bank’s sanctions system and issues final decisions on appeals of determinations reached at the first tier.

A list of all World Bank debarred entities and individuals is here.

The World Bank Procurement Guidelines are here.

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