If you are a company that is seeking to escape the downward spiral of paying bribes or engaging in fraud on projects financed by the multilateral development banks (“MDBs” or “IFIs”), such as the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank, then entry into a voluntary disclosure programme (“VDP”) might well be the answer.
VDPs are often used by enforcement agencies around the world in order to gather intelligence to aid in the global fight against corruption and fraud. Companies, individuals and other entities who are or who have been paying bribes with the intention of inter alia influencing the award of contracts are encourage by the terms and conditions of the programme to come forward and self-report their respective wrongdoings. The incentive for self-reporting under an established VDP is that the organisation that operates the programme will not normally sanction the participant for disclosed misconduct and will keep the identity of the participant confidential. The benefit to the organisation is self-evident, for it will discover information about corruption and fraud on projects that it is connected with from the participant that it might otherwise have been unaware of. Although the participant will not face sanction for its disclosures, the information that it provides will assist the organisation in pursuing cases against other bribe payers, bribe recipients and fraudsters.
Of the five major MDBs (i.e., the Asian Development Bank (“ADB”), the African Development Bank (“AfDB”), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (“EBRD”), the Inter American Development Bank (“IADB”) and the World Bank Group), only the World Bank Group operates a fully functioning, transparent and well established VDP; although the other MDBs, and most notably the ADB, have systems in place that encourage and reward self-reporting. The World Bank Group launched its VDP in 2006 and its accompanying Guidelines for Participants.
In order to enter the World Bank’s VDP, a participant must not be under active investigation by the Bank’s Integrity Vice Presidency (“INT”) and it must agree to:
- co-operate fully with the World Bank;
- desist from any further engagement in sanctionable practices on World Bank financed projects, such as corruption, fraud, collusion or coercion;
- investigate at its expense all World Bank funded contracts in which it has participated in the past five years and to disclose the results of those investigations to INT; and
- implement at its expense a robust internal compliance programme that meets the requirements of the Bank’s Integrity Compliance Guidelines and to subject that programme to monitoring for a period of three years by a Bank-approved Compliance Monitor.
In exchange for its full co-operation, the VDP participant enjoys:
- immunity from sanction on disclosed misconduct;
- the ability to continue to bid on World Bank financed projects.
A participant that continues to engage in misconduct after entering the VDP or otherwise materially violates the programme’s terms and conditions will be debarred by the World Bank for a ten year period, which means that during the currency of the debarment the participant will be (a) prevented from bidding on World Bank financed projects; and (b) cross-debarred by those Multilateral Development Banks that have signed and implemented the April 2010 Agreement for Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions (“the Cross-Debarment Accord”.
How Bretton Woods Law Can Assist You
Bretton Woods Law lawyers have established expertise in the VDP operated by the World Bank Group and understand fully the modalities of self-reporting to other Multilateral Development Banks, such as the ADB, which welcome self-reporting, but which do not as yet have a functioning and transparent programme. Bretton Woods Law handles for its clients all aspects of entry into and participation in the VDP or other forms of self-reporting. From first contact with the banks through to the fulfilment of all VDP obligations, Bretton Woods Law lawyers have established and verifiable experience. In particular, Bretton Woods Law lawyers:
- will conduct all the necessary internal investigations to a standard that meets and exceeds the bar set by the World Bank; and
- will design and, if necessary, implement an integrity compliance program that has previously been described as “gold-standard” by the World Bank’s Integrity Compliance Officer (“ICO”).
For further information about how Bretton Woods Law can assist you in moving away from corruption in a protected manner, please contact your nearest office or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.