Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s Lands a New Job – at the World Bank

(Photo: RNW)

We thought he was going to FIFA to investigate ethical breaches and corruption. He had wanted the post but, at the last moment, lost the job. Now, however, the World Bank is apparently set to hire Luis Moreno-Ocampo, former Chief Prosecutor at the ICC. From Reuters:

“The former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court will lead a review of Bangladesh’s investigation of alleged corruption tied to a major bridge project, the World Bank said late on Friday.

Luis Moreno Ocampo will head the three-member panel and deliver a report to the World Bank, one of several steps necessary for the Washington-based development institution to resume its $1.2 billion line of credit. Ocampo sought to prosecute individuals for crimes against humanity at the ICC, located in The Hague, Netherlands.

The World Bank canceled funding for the Padma River development in Bangladesh in June, saying it had “credible evidence” of high-level corruption among Bangladeshi government officials.

The Padma Multipurpose Bridge, at 4 miles long, would be the longest water crossing in the country, linking the underdeveloped south with the capital Dhaka and the main port of Chittagong.

The bank said it would resume financing of the project once agreed measures with the government were implemented.

These include an outside panel of experts to assess the credibility of the government’s investigation into allegations of corruption in the bridge project by the specially appointed Anti-Corruption Commission of Bangladesh (ACC).

Joining Ocampo on the panel are Timothy Tong, the former commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption in Hong Kong, and Richard Alderman, former director of Britain’s Serious Fraud Office.”

As always, it will be interesting (and likely entertaining!) to see how Moreno-Ocampo performs in his new position.

For Bangladesh – as it would have been for FIFA and President Sepp Blatter – it never looks good to have a former Prosecutor of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide investigating the government’s decision-making and policies. But it certainly does make it appear to the wider public that the issue of corruption is being taken seriously.

In comparison to the FIFA job, heading the panel is small peanuts, especially for an individual who has a penchant to seek the spotlight and clearly adores public attention. That being said, Moreno-Ocampo’s inclusion as the head of panel has the potential to bring much greater media and international focus to issues of development and corruption in Bangladesh. That may be bad for certain figures in Bangladesh’s government but it may be very good for accountability.

Interestingly, there is also a Libyan and Canadian connection to the story. According to the Reuters report,

“Two former executives from Canadian engineering company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc, which bid to supervise the contractor on the bridge project, appeared in a Toronto court in July accused of bribing officials in Bangladesh.

Canada launched an investigation last year into allegations of corruption in the bridge bidding process after the World Bank brought the issue to their attention.”

SNC-Lavalin has been rocked by scandals in recent months after it was revealed that the company had very close ties to the Gaddafi regime.

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About Mark Kersten

Mark is a PhD student in International Relations at the London School of Economics. His work focuses on the nexus of international criminal justice and conflict resolution. Specifically, he is examining the effects of the ICC on peace processes and negotiations in northern Uganda and Libya.
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2 Responses to Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s Lands a New Job – at the World Bank

  1. Actually, the World Bank might be bit less far-fetched for a former ICC Prosecutor than FIFA. Once Mr. Moreno-Ocampo is finished looking at corruption in Bangladesh, he might turn his attention to the relationship between WB funding and development project-induced involuntary resettlement in places like Ethiopia. In a recent complaint submitted to the World Bank Inspection Panel, the NGO Inclusive Development International (full disclosure – I’m an associate) alleged links between WB funding and violent evictions of project affected people in Gambella, Ethiopia that constituted apparent violations of human rights and could even rise to the level of crimes against humanity:

    http://www.inclusivedevelopment.net/ethiopia-gambella-villagization-program/

    In light of the current scramble for resources in a shrinking world, expertise in investigating and seeking accountability for gross human rights violations is – sadly – likely to become an increasingly important preoccupation for international financial institutions.

  2. Mark Kersten says:

    Thanks for this very interesting and insightful comment, Rhodri. I agree with you that it’s perhaps not as far-fetched as it may seem. More importantly, I think it’s quite a good move for the World Bank. It will be interesting if LMO’s job leads to his appointment to investigate similar cases for the World Bank in the future, including the case in Ethiopia to which you refer. It’s also fascinating that the worlds of financial institutions and international criminal justice are colliding.

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