The continuous efforts of Bruce Tasker and Onnik Krikoryan for drawing attention to what they claim is a major corruption case which involves the Armenian government and the World Bank seem to have finally drawn media attention, Onnik Krikoryan writes, that the The Observer newspaper in the U.K. has published details of Tasker’s allegations, and the A1plus and RFE/RL have reported on the issue:
The World Bank on Thursday again shrugged off embarrassing allegations about gross misuse of a $30 million loan to Armenia that were first made by an Armenian parliamentary commission in 2004 and have resurfaced in recent weeks.
The loan was part of a 1999 World Bank project designed to upgrade the country’s water infrastructure and improve Yerevan residents’ access to drinking water. The Armenian parliament formed in 2003 an ad hoc commission to investigate the effectiveness of these and other large-scale infrastructure projects financed by Western donors.
In its first report made public in March 2004, the commission headed by deputy speaker Vahan Hovannisian concluded that the water scheme has failed to achieve its main objectives to due to mismanagement and corruption among government officials and private firms. The report deplored the fact that 27 percent of the World Bank funds have been spent on project management, overheads and logistics.
The World Bank office dismissed the claims at the time, insisting that the project’s implementation has been a success.
The Washington-based institution, which has been Armenia’s principal lender, was again put on the defense recently by Bruce Tasker, a Yerevan-based British engineer who had participated in the 2003-2004 parliamentary inquiry as an expert. Tasker detailed those allegations on his website and effectively implicated the World Bank in the alleged corruption.
“The fact is it was not an isolated case of a few thousand dollars here or there, it was tens of millions of dollars,” Britain’s “The Observer” newspaper quoted him as saying on Sunday.
Read more at Oneworld Multimedia.
Actually, I don’t claim it’s a major case of corruption, but rather that after serious allegations were made by a 2004 parliamentary commission investigating a Yerevan Municipal development project by the World Bank, nothing else was said or done.
Now, Bruce Tasker is detailing the allegations on his blog and the World Bank INT still refuses to send a team to investigate these claims even though the Washington-based Government Accountability Project has had lawyers examining the evidence provided to them and concluded that an investigation is necessary.
So, we had a situation in 2004 when allegations of significant corruption arose, and one now when a major oversight body monitoring the World Bank has effectively backed them up. On that basis, one has to agree that the evidence is “compelling” enough for the media and civil society to take an interest in the case.
Moreover, there is now no reason why the World Bank shouldn’t immediately send an INT team to Yerevan to investigate this matter which has been on the boil since 2004. Ultimately, that’s my interest in this case, although it has to be said that Tasker has set an interesting precedent for blogs to be used to raise allegations of corruption and to demand transparency and accountability in Armenia.
Onnik – thanx for clarifications.
Comments are closed.