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IDB appoints Brigida Benitez as Chief of its Office of Institutional Integrity

The Inter-American Development Bank today announced the appointment of Brigida Benitez as Chief of its Office of Institutional Integrity (OII), which investigates allegations of fraud and corruption in IDB-financed projects. A nationally recognized litigator and former partner of the WilmerHale law firm in Washington, DC, she will start on her new post on January 25, 2010.

Benitez, who will report to IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno, will head a team of lawyers and investigators at the forefront of the Bank’s efforts to prevent and combat prohibited practices in its operations. The OII also advises governments on how to better prevent corrupt practices.

The IDB is the leading source of long-term financing for development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. At the end of 2009, its loan portfolio totaled $56 billion.
In recent years, the IDB has carried out a major overhaul of its anti-corruption framework, ensuring that allegations of wrongdoing are promptly examined. Among other measures, it granted the OII greater autonomy, bolstered whistleblower protection and added external members to the Sanctions Committee – which has final say on penalties.
Benitez brings to her new post at the IDB a vast experience in conducting internal inquiries involving fraud, embezzlement, accounting irregularities and employee misconduct in major corporations in the United States, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East.

As a key member of a WilmerHale legal team representing the University of Michigan, she won a landmark victory for diversity in higher education in a six-year-long case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. She also successfully represented corporate clients in international arbitration cases.

Benitez has been honored as Woman of the Year by Hispanic Business magazine and Latina Lawyer of the Year by the Hispanic National Bar Association. She has also been recognized for her pro bono work in providing legal aid to non-English speakers in the District of Columbia.

“I am pleased to welcome Benitez to the IDB group,” President Moreno said. “We are striving to ensure that our programs abide by the highest standards of ethics and transparency, and we are strengthening our cooperation with country authorities to help prevent the occurrence of prohibited practices. These efforts will be bolstered by the addition of Benitez to our team.”

The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Benitez grew up in Miami. She obtained a bachelor’s degree with high honors at the University of Florida, where she studied journalism. She graduated cum laude with a Juris Doctor degree from Boston College Law School, where she was the Law review’s editor-in-chief.

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