Friday, January 18, 2008

World Bank Fires Anti-Corruption Head

An employee does her job and gets fired for her efforts:

The World Bank on Wednesday announced the resignation of Suzanne Rich Folsom as director of its anticorruption unit, or INT. "She was not forced out, she was not asked to leave," said external relations chief Marwan Muasher. That's one way of putting it.

Ms. Folsom is, in fact, leaving the bank of her own accord for a private-sector job, having recently completed a devastating report on $569 million worth of corrupted bank projects in India. But this is a story of a resignation by a thousand cuts. Along with her top deputies, Glenn Ware and Allison Brigati, Ms. Folsom departs having survived years of relentless vilification by a bank staff and even senior leadership determined to undermine her anticorruption efforts
She “left to pursue other opportunities” is a popular euphemism for being forced out, one step short of being fired. I had hoped Ms. Folsom would stick to her guns and force the World Bank to fire her. The ensuing publicity would have brought much needed attention to an organization that—like the International Monetary Fund and United Nations—is rife with corruption and bureaucratic malaise.

This incident also underscores the need to either reform both the IMF and WB, or eliminate them entirely. The United States, which provides the lion’s share of the funding for both entities, should demand changes in order to increase transparency and accountability—American taxpayers demand it from their government, why not international insitutions? Failing that, the United States should unilaterally withdraw from both the IMF and WB.