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These are questions that consulting firms, consultants, journalists, and stakeholders most frequently ask the Office of Anticorruption and Integrity. If you have other questions, contact us.
What are considered integrity violations?
ADB defines integrity violations as any acts that violate ADB's Anticorruption Policy, including corrupt and fraudulent practices, coercion, collusion, abuse, conflict of interest, obstructive practice, violation of ADB sanctions, and retaliation against whistleblowers.
Who is covered by the Anticorruption Policy?
The policy applies to ADB staff and non-ADB staff engaged in ADB-financed activities, such as bidders, consulting firms, consultants, contractors, or suppliers.
Can ADB investigate and sanction government officials?
If investigative findings indicate that a government official is engaged in fraudulent or corrupt practices, or involved in any abuse or misconduct, ADB may refer the case to appropriate authorities of a concerned member government.
How does ADB protect whistleblowers and witnesses?
ADB protects the identities of whistleblowers and witnesses from unauthorized disclosure. Whistleblowers and witnesses who are ADB staff will be accorded interim protection (e.g., temporary reassignment to another position and if appropriate or placement on paid administrative leave, etc) during the course of investigation. An external whistleblower or witness experiencing retaliation will be given adequate security protection or other reasonable measures to reduce the risks of retaliation.
Will I be punished if I file a report that turns out not to be true?
ADB will impose a remedial action on anyone who knowingly reports false, frivolous or misleading information. However, no one will be punished for reporting concerns in good faith, even if they are ultimately found to be incorrect or inaccurate, so long as the complaints are believed to be accurate, or suspicious enough to cause concern.
What is ADB’s sanctions process?
Any complaint or allegation received by OAI is screened if it meets four criteria, namely: if it is within OAI’s mandate, credible, verifiable, and material. OAI investigates the complaint further if all the criteria are met.
OAI presents its investigative findings to subjects of an investigation whenever possible. Subjects may prepare a written explanation, which is presented to ADB's Integrity Oversight Committee (IOC). However, because the investigation process is administrative in nature, there are no personal appearances or representation at the IOC meetings. The IOC has sole discretion to assess whether an alleged violation has taken place, and if so, will determine the appropriate remedial actions.
For ADB staff, OAI investigates, then prepares and submits an investigative report to ADB’s Human Resources Division (BPHR). BPHR initiates formal disciplinary measures in accordance with Administrative Order 2.04.
What are the remedial actions that ADB can impose on private individuals or entities?
OAI may determine any of the following remedial actions:
- Debarment: declaration that a party is not eligible to participate in ADB-related activity for a certain period.
- Debarment with conditional reinstatement: declaration that a party is ineligible to participate in ADB-related activity but with specific conditions that would merit reduction of the debarment period if met.
- Conditional non-debarment: declaration that debarment is not required provided that specific actions are taken by a party.
- Reprimand: a censure for a party’s actions and notification that subsequent violations may result in a higher penalty.
- Restitution and/or remedy: may be used where there is a quantifiable amount to be restored to the client country or project.
For additional details on remedial actions, see paragraphs 62 to 76 of the Integrity Principles and Guidelines.
Can firms or individuals appeal sanction decisions by the Integrity Oversight Committee (IOC)?
Yes. They are given 90 days to appeal the decision to ADB’s Sanctions Appeal Committee, and present new information not known to the subject at the time of OAI’s initial investigations.
When ADB debars a firm, does that sanction also apply to the firm’s employees or associated firms?
A firm’s debarment extends to all employees and officers of the firm, unless otherwise specified. It may also extend to contractual employees or others with an association with the firm, depending on the specific relationship of that individual with the firm or the individual’s involvement in the action that led to the sanction.
Are debarred firms or individuals subject to criminal proceedings?
No. ADB’s debarment procedure is administrative, not a criminal one.
Does ADB publicize the names of firms and individuals it has debarred?
The complete list of all ADB debarments is accessible on a password-enabled website to ADB staff, Board of Directors, representatives of international organizations, government agencies that implement ADB projects, bi-laterals, and other parties with a demonstrated "need to know".
Of that list, the debarments that are available to the general public include entities and individuals that have been:
- debarred by ADB for second or subsequent integrity violations;
- debarred by ADB for sanctions violation (i.e. attempting to participate in an ADB-financed activity while ineligible);
- debarred by ADB, but whom ADB has found impossible to notify (process avoiders);
- cross-debarred by ADB, pursuant to Agreement for Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions (Cross-Debarment Agreement), entered into in April 2010 and presently declared in force by World Bank Group, ADB and EBRD.
ADB balances the organization’s intention to not do business with entities and individuals that do not live up to ADB’s ethical standards, on the one hand, and the desire to give firms and persons a chance to improve their performance in the overall interest of reducing corruption, on the other.
In ADB’s view, allowing for first-time violators to improve their ethical standards and to thereby contribute to improving governance in general, rather than branding them publicly as “corrupt” after a first violation of ADB’s Anticorruption Policy and Integrity Principles and Guidelines, is a more productive and constructive approach in the fight against corruption in the medium and long-term.
This consideration is particularly relevant with the advent of cross debarment, as a result of which a debarred firm or individual is at risk of world-wide ineligibility to participate in projects of MDBs that are signatory to the Cross Debarment Agreement.
What is cross debarment?
It is an agreement among ADB, African Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank to mutually enforce each other’s debarment actions on a prospective basis, with respect to the four prohibited practices, i.e. corruption, fraud, coercion and collusion. After debarring an entity, a participating MDB sends a Notice of Debarment Decision to the other signatories. Entities or individuals debarred by one MDB for more than one year will be cross debarred by other MDBs.
For more information, visit the crossdebarment website.
Does cross debarment apply to all firms and individuals on ADB’s sanctions list?
Cross debarment applies to only those firms or individuals sanctioned and publicized after the Agreement became effective, or entered into force. With respect to ADB, cross debarment applies only to the debarred entities publicized on ADB's external website, and not to the debarred entities on its internal non-publicized sanctions list.
Do MDBs that cross-debar determine their own sanction period?
No. The sanctioning MDB determines the period of debarment. If the sanctioning MDB decides to modify the sanction period – e.g. due to mitigating or aggravating circumstances - it will have to inform the other participating MDBs.
Do participating MDBs have to cross debar at all times?
In principle, all participating MDBs aim to apply cross debarment when all criteria for compliance have been met. However, there is an opt-out clause (Section 7 of the Agreement) that states that a participating MDB may decide not to cross debar if cross debarment would be “inconsistent with its legal or other institutional considerations […].” The MDB that decides not to cross debar must give prompt notice of its decision to the other participating MDBs.
Can the other MDBs still launch independent investigations on parties that have been sanctioned by one MDB?
Yes, each MDB may still pursue independent debarment proceedings for separate sanctionable practices by the same party already debarred by one of the participating MDBs. This may result in concurrent, consecutive or subsequent periods of debarment, which is one of the reasons cross debarment is a potentially strong deterrent to fraudulent or corrupt practices.
What is NOT covered by cross debarment?
Cross debarment does not cover:
- sanctions of government officials
- sanctions imposed as a result of recognition of national court decisions
- sanctions of one year or less
- undisclosed or non-publicized sanctions
- sanctions issued under the World Bank’s Voluntary Disclosure Program