The World bank scandal became one of those, so far rare cases, when an important news item is consistently filtered out of the news agenda by traditional media, and only continuous blogging efforts persist in exposing it until the item finally becomes center of attention. As Onnik Krikoryan reports, although media in Armenia refused to cover the World Bank corruption scandal in Armenia several months ago, continuous efforts by British whistleblower Bruce Tasker on his own blog, Blowing the World Bank Whistle and also Oneworld Multimedia, the most popular English language Armenian blog, finally rendered results. And although so far it is only RFE/RL reporting the developments, looks like the story will no longer stay in oblivion:
A U.S. anti-corruption watchdog joined on Thursday a British whistleblower in accusing the World Bank of covering up what they see as gross misuse of a $30 million loan that was meant to upgrade Armenia’s battered water infrastructure.
Tasker claims that the installation of water meters was a major source of corruption among Armenian and foreign officials as well as private firms involved in the project’s implementation. He says local contractors alone were able to pocket up to $10 profit on the sale of each meter by charging customers for installation.
Onnik Krikoryan further reports, how media outlets have been reluctant to “get on the bad side of the World Bank”:
Tasker set up his blog when news outlets here refused to cover the story at the beginning of the year although the former finally did so only after this blog brought the alleged scandal to greater public attention. Eventually, some media outlets here did follow suit, but many publications here and abroad were hesitant in taking material from yours truly when I approached them. Nobody wanted to get on the bad side of the World Bank.
However, New Internationalist published my short piece on Tasker and his battle with the World Bank at the end of October. Now, RFE/RL reports that the scandal has hit the big time in Yerevan. However, the World Bank continue to deny any wrongdoing. Time will tell.