Chinese Companies and the World Bank’s Procurement Blacklists

The World Bank and other multilateral development banks have robust fraud and corruption policies relating to procurement and consulting services, with due process procedures that permit the accused firms to challenge the banks’ findings. A quick search of the World Bank’s list of Debarred & Cross-debarred Firms & Individuals reveals that a surprising number of those (approximately 30) are Chinese companies, many state-owned. Although the Chinese official press reports on these debarments (described as the World Bank’s “Black List”), it is not apparent from the reports whether these sanctions imposed by the multilateral development banks have any repercussions for these companies or their senior management in doing Chinese government sponsored projects. Some of the cases include: Hunan Construction Group, debarred in January, 2016 for falsification, for a period of three years; China International Water and Electric Corp. (CWE) and affiliates, debarred in 2014 for a period of three years as part of a Negotiated Resolution Agreement; and China Jiangsu International Economic and Technical Cooperation Group Ltd., debarred in 2014 for fraud in a project in Ethiopia, for a period of 3 years. One Chinese consultant contacted privately remarked that Chinese firms all reject the results of these investigations, and take the “Four No” approach—do not recognize, do not accept, do not commit themselves, and there are no consequences in China. Will the practice and regulatory approach change when China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) goes into operation? That may be possible, given the AIIB has recently appointed Mr. Hamid Sharif, formerly of the Asian Development Bank, to be Director General of the Compliance, Effectiveness and Integrity Unit, and Gerard Sanders, who served for many years in the legal department of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, both of whom would be familiar with the multilateral development bank’s blacklists.