In a statement that raises more questions than it answers, the World Bank and the government jointly announced Tuesday that the bank has completed a study finding possible collusion and fraud along with mismanagement in some of its projects in Cambodia.
The World Bank refused to release the study, titled “Reduction of Fiduciary Risks Under World Bank-Funded Projects in Cambodia.” It also declined to say how many of the projects studied have been identified as targets for investigation of fraud or corruption, how much money may be involved, or which government ministries or possible officials are suspected.
“The report will never be released. It is a confidential document between the World Bank and the government. It is confidential so the government can develop an action plan,” said Bou Sarouen, World Bank country office spokesman. “The [Integrity] department at the World Bank will choose to investigate some of the cases and if it decided on sanctions then a statement will be released.”
“We cannot say anything more than is in the press release,” Nisha Agrawal, the World Bank’s country manager, added later Tuesday.
The statement released by the bank says that “the study team uncovered cases of poor quality of execution, weak financial management and indication of possible cases of collusion and fraud.”
It does not say how many suspected cases of fraud have been referred to the Bank’s Integrity department for investigation. In August, it says, 257 contracts out of 632 were found to be of “possible concern.” Of those cases, 120 were studied in the new report.
The report focused on four areas: Flood emergency, rural investment and local governance, road rehabilitation, and biodiversity and protected areas.
Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said Tuesday that based on past experience, he does not think the World Bank will disclose their findings.
Son Chhay said that if the World Bank is serious about combating corruption in Cambodia, it needs to get the public and parliament involved in examining government dealings.
“By dealing in secret, they are playing the government’s game. In parliament when we ask government officials how they are using Bank loans we are told that the contracts are secret,” he said. “How can the public help the Bank fight corruption if we don’t know at all what is going on in this country?”