The limits of transparency
World Bank is sticking with its Managing Director,
THE World Bank, which has often pressed borrowing nations to adopt more robust financial transparency regulations, has refused to disclose financial records of one of its senior officials despite allegations of corruption, abuse of authority and mismanagement of public funds when he served as a minister under the now toppled Hosni Mubarak.
In correspondence seen by Al-Ahram Weekly between the World Bank and a Washington-based NGO that advocates for greater accountability in international institutions, the lender has refused to make known records of Managing Director Mahmoud Mohieldin, who was a close aide to Mubarak and his son and heir-apparent Gamal in Egypt, citing concern over personal privacy.
The bank's legal counsel Anne-Marie Leroy told the Government Accountability Project (GAP) that the bank had to strike 'a careful balance between disclosure of financial interests and personal privacy and security concerns', and therefore decided against disclosing Mohieldin's financial statements.
46-year-old Mohieldin, who served as minister of investment from 2004
until his appointment as the World Bank's managing director in October
2010, became a controversial figure in
Along with Foreign Trade and Industry Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid and Finance Minister Youssef Boutros Ghali, Mohieldin was a member of the economic team in charge of deeply unpopular policies that included an aggressive privatisation programme.
Both Rachid and Ghali fled abroad to escape facing charges of corruption, misuse of public funds and profiteering.
Numerous allegations of financial misconduct have been filed against Mohieldin with the prosecutor-general's office, and his alleged role in sweetheart deals involving the sale of public assets at below market rates has been raised in countless press articles.
said it began seeking Mohieldin's financial disclosure records from
the World Bank after it became clear that he was the subject of controversy
One of the accusations filed against Mohieldin is that he pressured the committee charged with valuing the Omar Effendi retail chain to lower its valuation, illegally benefiting the buyer.
In May an Egyptian court ordered that the sale of the chain to the Saudi-based company Anwal be annulled on the grounds that the valuation was too low.
According to court documents, the 82 Omar Effendi stores were sold for LE590 million when the land on which they were built was alone worth LE4 billion.
the World Bank resisted calls for greater transparency over the financial
dealings of its managing director, hundreds of workers from Omar Effendi
were distributing fliers asking
case before investigators alleges that Mohieldin approved the sale of
the chemical manufacturer
Mohieldin is apparently under investigation for corruption in
A source close to the World Bank, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mohieldin 'may be enjoying the personal protection' of World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick, who has publicly stated his admiration for Mohieldin's work under Mubarak and the economic changes it wrought in Egypt.
Zoellick had publicly praised Mohieldin as 'a tireless reformer' with an 'outstanding track-record of results in reform, modernisation, and knowledge-generation'.
This article is reproduced from Al-Ahram Weekly (No. 1061, 18-24 August 2011).
*Third World Resurgence No. 251/252, July/August 2011, p 49