Managers at the World Bank provided false information to the agency's board of directors about a $39 million, politically-connected European "coastal cleanup" project that led to the destruction and destitution of a powerless village in Albania in 2007 — and then spent nearly two years trying to cover it up, FOX News has learned.
Bank insiders also misled and stonewalled a panel of independent investigators commissioned by the board to investigate the scandal, according to the investigators themselves.
World Bank sources tell FOX News that the panel's report, submitted to the 24-member board in late November, is one of the most damning independent assessments of the anti-poverty agency's behavior in the bank's 60-year history. The bank, the world's largest and most influential anti-poverty institution and part of the U.N. system, is doling out $100 billion over the next three years for development projects.
For its part, once the report leaked in Albania last week, the bank announced that further disbursements of the loan for the Albanian project had been temporarily suspended on Jan. 9 "due to certain outstanding policy and operational issues." A World Bank spokesman did not comment to FOX News by press time.
The scandal, laid out in documents also leaked to FOX News, paints a sharply-detailed picture of how the bank has responded to its own discovery of misconduct and potential corruption.
It also shows how projects ostensibly intended to improve the environment and living conditions in far-flung parts of the world can be abused and distorted in the name of the bank.
Moreover, as FOX reported in a series of articles since October, the bank has suppressed information on many other critical matters — from serious computer security breaches inside the institution to its troubling relations with Satyam Computer Services Ltd., the Indian outsourcing giant that collapsed last month in a billion-dollar accounting fraud.
In the case of Satyam, the bank...