Bribes by companies in Bank-funded African project

15 September 1999

A dozen major international dam-building companies involved in the World Bank-funded Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) have lavishly bribed a top official on the project, allegedly giving nearly US$2 million in bribes over ten years. This was revealed during a court case for the bribed official.

Patrick McCully, Campaigns Director of International Rivers Network, says:

“Bribery has long distorted decision-making on large dams. The international dam industry should be held accountable for its corrupt practices.”

According to a July article in Business Day, the World Bank will wait until the outcome of the court case before contemplating action against any of the companies named on the charge sheet. NGOs argue they should be barred from tendering for future World Bank contracts, in accordance with World Bank anti-corruption policy. Some Bank officials, however, are claiming that the Bank was a small player in the project. In fact it lent directly for the project, provided financing for its design and coordinated the financing program.