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I was reminded of last weeks Phoenix while listening to the Irish head of Transparency International on Morning Ireland's business news section this morning. He was angelically critiquing companies here who may, (be forced to...) slip their standards abroad.
The Phoenix had an interesting article on this Irish Chapter of Transparency International (TI), on TI internationally, and on their links with the World Bank and curious unwillingness to demand Wolfowitz's resignation...
(as it is not available online, I post this article in the public interest.)
© Steve Bell 2007
IRISH WORTHIES SOFT ON WOLFOWITZ
A relentless stream of high minded statements from the Irish chapter of Transparency International (TI) in recent months have berated Irish business and politicians, at home and abroad, about their low standards in combating corruption. Yet on the global corruption issue of the moment - the scandal of World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz and his girl friend, Shaha Riza - TI has declined to go along with the worldwide demands for his resignation. This is unsurprising given the links between the World Bank and TI internationally.
TI Ireland’s chief executive, John Devitt, a former press officer with the British Embassy in Dublin, lectured the Irish government last week for their Ethics Bill amendment and he has also criticised government, state officials and Irish business on anti-corruption measures, political funding rules and so on. TI Ireland’s board and advisory council is
composed of the great and the good, including Eithne Fitzgerald, former Labour minister, Niamh Brennan (Mrs
Michael McDowell), Sir Garret Fitzgerald and Irish Times journalist, Paul Cullen as well as various financiers and right
wing economists. And Mary Robinson, naturally, has agreed to serve on its advisory council.
TI claims to exist to root out corruption in the third World and in the West but has a decidedly prowestern,
corporate tone and orientation in its policies. TI International has extensive links to the World Bank via its leading personnel and has been financially sponsored by the bank (see The Phoenix, 17/12/04).
While world opinion, including many US newspapers, railed against Wolfowitz in the last few weeks, demanding that he resign, TI has failed to join the chorus. Last week a cofounder of TI, Frank Vogl, expressed concern at the “very serious situation” over Wolfowitz but went no further than saying, “it needs to be resolved in a clear transparent manner”. Vogl is still a director of TI International and he is also a former press officer for the World Bank.
In March, Wolfowitz made a significant appointment when he selected former Nigerian education minister Obiageli Ezekwesili as vice-president of the World Bank for the African region. It may or may not surprise readers to know
that Ezekweseli is a founding member of Transparency International. In its review of activities for 2006, TI selected their “five top picks” from the international media to illustrate how corruption was a global theme with a glowing article on the anti-corruption drive by Wolfowitz top of the list.
In another anodyne comment on Wolfowitz recently, TI referred to “serious errors of judgment and a breakdown in the
system for conflicts of interest (that) have occurred” in a long statement that did not even mention Wolfowitz by name, much less call for his resignation. And no comment of any sort on Wolfowitz has been forthcoming from the Irish chapter.
With watchdogs like this, those individuals in Irish and international big business who wish to pull fast ones at home and abroad can sleep easily.
What the article doesn't mention, only infer, is how front groups like the TI, fail every time, to denounce the elephant-in-the-room of corruption, namely - the briberization process - as described by Stiglitz* (the World Bank’s former Chief Economist). But then again, the TI are an integral part of it...
The Globalizer Who Came In From the Cold
....Each nation’s economy is individually analyzed, then, says Stiglitz, the Bank hands every minister the same exact four-step program.
Step One is Privatization - which Stiglitz said could more accurately be called, ‘Briberization.’ Rather than object to the sell-offs of state industries, he said national leaders - using the World Bank’s demands to silence local critics - happily flogged their electricity and water companies. “You could see their eyes widen” at the prospect of 10% commissions paid to Swiss bank accounts for simply shaving a few billion off the sale price of national assets.....