Corruption greatly undermines the building of inclusive, democratic and transparent societies in Latin America and the Caribbean, threatening both economic and social development in the region as well as the mission of the IDB, noted Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno in introducing the 2005 Annual Report for the Office of Institutional Integrity.
The amount of inquiries regarding fraud, corruption and misconduct received by the OII has increased steadily over the past two years, paralleling with the Office´s efforts to build awareness of the nature and seriousness of corrupt practices, and to encourage staff members and member countries to speak out when they see behavior that may be inappropriate.
The OII received 157 new inquiries in 2005, of which 138 turned into actual allegations. The office carried over 117 allegations from the previous year and closed 144 cases --an increase of 64 percent over cases closed in 2004-- with sanctions imposed in five instances.
About 23 percent of allegations came from individuals identifying themselves as Bank staff, more than double the 10 percent reported in 2004. Still, over half of the allegations received in 2005 were reported by non-Bank staff, including staff of executing agencies, losing bidders on Bank-financed projects, and the general public. The percentage of allegations made anonymously has remained steady at 25 percent.
Complainants made use of several methods in order to make their allegations, but the Internet was the preferred mode of communication. Over half the allegations were transmitted via e-mail or using the OII website.
The OII also complemented its investigative duties with increased preventative training for Bank staff and outreach activities to strengthen ties with other multilateral organizations.
New Code of Ethics
Integral to the OII’s work this past year was the revitalization of the Bank’s Code of Ethics, the new version of which took effect on March 1, 2006. Rather than being a top-down initiative, the document reflects a comprehensive framework for integrity, developed in consultation with Bank employees to provide a clear, consensual, ethical compass for all staff.
The OII was established in 2003 as the central unit responsible for promoting institutional integrity at the IDB, doing so through education and training, as well as the detection, investigation, and prevention of fraud, corruption and misconduct. Results of OII investigations are presented to the Bank’s Oversight Committee on Fraud and Corruption (OCFC) for decision.
Each year, the IDB devotes 15 to 20 percent of its lending to projects aimed at fighting corruption through increased transparency, modernization of the state and improved accountability of public-sector institutions, but the problem persists.
Corruption also greatly erodes basic levels of trust in public institutions in most countries. According to Latinobarómetro, a polling organization based in Chile that conducts a yearly public opinion survey in 18 countries Latin American countries, the region’s mistrust of public institutions is among the highest in the world.
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