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World Bank cancels $1.2-b aid for Bangladesh project

PTI Washington | Updated on November 17, 2017

In a set-back to Bangladesh, the World Bank has cancelled with immediate effect its $1.2-billion financial assistance to the Padma Bridge project, citing massive corruption in the programme.

In a strongly worded statement, the World Bank said that the Bangladesh Government has failed to take any action to check corruption despite its repeated reminder.

“In light of the inadequate response by the Government of Bangladesh, the World Bank has decided to cancel its $1.2-billion (International Development Association) credit in support of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge project, effective immediately,” the statement said.

“The World Bank cannot, should not, and will not turn a blind eye to evidence of corruption. We have both an ethical obligation and a fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders and IDA donor countries. It is our responsibility to make sure IDA resources are used for their intended purposes and that we only finance a project when we have adequate assurances that we can do so in a clean and transparent way,” it said.

In an unusual detailed statement, the World Bank said it has credible evidence corroborated by a variety of sources which points to a high-level corruption conspiracy among Bangladeshi government officials, SNC Lavalin executives, and private individuals in connection with the project.

The six-km long Padma Bridge is a multipurpose road-rail bridge across the Padma River to be constructed in Bangladesh to link the country’s underdeveloped south with the capital Dhaka and the main port of Chittagong.

The World Bank said it provided evidence from two investigations to the Prime Minister, as well as the Minister of Finance and the Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission of Bangladesh in September 2011 and April 2012.

“We urged the authorities of Bangladesh to investigate this matter fully and, where justified, prosecute those responsible for corruption. We did so because we hoped the Government would give the matter the serious attention it warrants,” it said.

In Canada, where SNC Lavalin’s headquarters are located, after executing numerous search warrants and a year-long probe based on a referral from the World Bank, the Crown Prosecution Services brought corruption charges against two former SNC executives in connection with the Padma Bridge Project.

Investigation and prosecution are ongoing but the court filings to date underscore the gravity of this case, it said.

Published on June 30, 2012

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