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Transparency International Ireland & The World Bank

category international | rights and freedoms | other press author Friday May 11, 2007 09:15author by Tech1.0 Report this post to the editors

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
© 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
http://www.gregpalast.com/the-globalizer-who-came-in-fr...-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.....

Related Link: http://www.gregpalast.com/the-globalizer-who-came-in-fr...-cold
author by John Devitt - Transparency International Irelandpublication date Tue May 15, 2007 19:14Report this post to the editors

Hello there,

TI Ireland have published a response to the Phoenix article published on 7 May (please see below). For your information, the head of TI Ireland did not appear on Morning Ireland on 11 May, this was Jermyn Brooks Head of TI's Private Sector Programme. It is also worth pointing out that TI does not advocate the privatisation of public assets as a matter of policy - indeed in many cases, it simply fuels the phenomenon.

All the best,
John

Response to Phoenix Magazine Article on Transparency International - 16 May 2007

Dear Sir,

I write to comment on your entertaining but misleading piece titled “Irish worthies soft on Wolfowitz” from 7 May 2006. As your readers may be aware Transparency International does not undertake investigations, name names or comment on individual cases. Rather, our focus is on long-term solutions addressing systemic problems in the public and private sectors. Your readers may also be aware that it is not our organisation’s policy to call for the resignation of individual public officials or representatives. Furthermore, TI Ireland does not undertake international advocacy unless it is in coordination with the Secretariat or other TI chapters.

Instead TI works with, rather than against, government, business, civil society and international organisations (including the United Nations and the World Bank) to build capacity, design strategies and implement policies aimed at preventing bribery and other forms of corruption in business and government.

Since its foundation in 1993, TI has been hugely successful in placing corruption on the public agenda worldwide. It has helped to formulate codes, laws and international conventions designed to prevent corruption and consistently promoted the role of civil society and a free media in advancing public accountability. These achievements are underpinned by research, education and public information programmes led by a team of 60 staff and volunteers in Berlin and around 90 autonomous chapters worldwide.

TI Ireland was established in 2004. It has one member of staff, a small team of volunteers and an annual budget of around €50,000. Its membership, Board and Advisory Council include individuals from across the political spectrum with a background in government, business and civil society. Serving and former members include Tom Arnold of Concern, Noeleen Hartigan of Amnesty International, Valerie Bresnihan former Chair of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, former Ombudsman Kevin Murphy, and former SIPTU president Des Geraghty.

TI Ireland has never received funding from the World Bank. TI has received relatively little financial support from the same organisation. In 2005 the Bank contributed €1,178 to TI Secretariat compared to €150,000 provided by Irish Aid that same year (the latest available figures). While TI’s founder and current chair of its Advisory Council, Peter Eigen served as the World Bank’s director for East Africa until his retirement in 1991, no serving member of staff at TI Secretariat and only one serving director of TI (out of twelve) have been employees of the World Bank. TI’s and TI Ireland’s financial statements and annual reports are publicly available and can be downloaded at www.transparency.org and www.transparency.ie.

Sincerely,
John

John Devitt
Chief Executive
Transparency International Ireland

author by Michelle Clarke - Social Justice and Ethicspublication date Fri Mar 21, 2008 18:00Report this post to the editors

In times of uncertainty, brush up on the history and take a view.

Money markets have been in distress for several months now. Corrupt practices via a rumour mill is the latest concern.......

Be alert.....hope your investments are in sound accounts.....

Michelle

Related Link: http://www.mentalhealthelections.ie
 
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