By Dennis Abrams
On Tuesday, July 3, the World Bank barred two wholly-owned subsidiaries of Oxford University Press (OUP) from bidding on World Bank contracts. Oxford University Press East Africa Limited (OUPEA) and Oxford University Press Tanzania Limited (OUPT) will be blocked from bidding for three years following OUP’s acknowledgment that the two companies’ misused funds in two Bank-financed education projects in East Africa.
The corruption charges stem from improper payments made to government officials in two countries in east Africa in relation to contracts to provide schools with textbooks as part of two separate World Bank-funded projects, according to a BBC article. The piece identifies the sanctions as part of a larger World Bank crackdown in Africa to rein in “rampant corruption.”
The debarment comes as part of a Negotiated Resolution Agreement between OUP and the World Bank Group. In addition, www.afronline.org notes, “According to a World Bank spokesperson who requested not to be named, the companies will also be barred from bidding for contracts at other multilateral development banks, including the African Development Bank.”
While OUPEA and OUPT will be blacklisted for three years, OUP will receive a conditional non-debarment. In addition, as part of the Negotiated Resolution OUP will pay the World Bank US$500,000 as a “recompense for corrupt practices, [which] will either go back into funding projects or fighting corruption.”
In a press release, Leonard McCarthy, World Bank integrity vice president, said, “This debarment is testimony to the Bank’s continued commitment to protecting the integrity of its projects. OUP’s acknowledgement of misconduct and the thoroughness of its investigation is evidence of how companies can address issues of fraud and corruption and change their corporate practices to foster integrity in the development business. In this case, working with the Serious Fraud Office also demonstrates the scope of collective action in deterring corruption impacting the progress of development.”