Thursday, December 9, 2010


German conglomerate Siemens AG will give the Makati Business Club close to P50 million to start up anti-corruption programs in the Philippines.

The amount is part of a $100 million fund created by Siemens to settle a corruption case with the World Bank after it was found bribing officials in Africa.

The World Bank-Siemens comprehensive settlement was signed in July last year.

An initial tranche of $40 million will be distributed to more than 20 countries, including the Philippines, and will fund 30 anti-corruption projects.

About 300 nonprofit organizations from 66 countries applied for the funding.

The Makati Business Club is a private nonprofit established in 1981 and now has over 800 members belonging to the top 400 corporations in the Philippines.

A source in the World Bank said the MBC will get about P50 million from the Siemens fund.

“Together with the World Bank Group, we want to promote integrity and fair competition worldwide,” Peter Solmssen, a board member and Siemens general counsel said.

“We welcome the company’s initiative and clear commitment to the principle that only clean business is good, sustainable business,” responded World Bank Integrity Vice President Leonard McCarthy.

“Together with the World Bank, we want to promote integrity and fair competition worldwide,” Solmssen added.

“Corruption steals from the poor and it can only be tackled on a joint basis,” McCarthy said, “the projects of the Siemens Integrity Initiative will help strengthen the will to combat corruption worldwide and improve conditions for everyone.”

Part of the money will also go the Vienna-based International Anti-Corruption Academy that will train anti-corruption experts from around the world.

Aside from the Philippines, the fund will also finance projects in Angola, Brazil, China, Egypt, Hungary India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, the Slovak Republic, South Africa, the Czech Republic, the United States, Vietnam and various Middle East nations, the Siemens statement read.

World Bank president Robert Zoellick underlined the need to confront transnational corruption in this week’s International Corruption Hunters Alliance meeting in Washington DC.

The World Bank has signed agreements with four regional multilateral development banks to ban companies and individuals from winning contracts funded by these institutions.

“The agreement sends a clear message: cheat and steal from one of us, and you will be punished by all,” he declared.

Over a thousand corrupt entities have been banned in the last decade, Zoellick disclosed.

At least nine of these are Filipino nationals or companies.

As part of the settlement with Siemens, the World Bank will be allowed to audit the use of the money and can veto the selection by Siemens of anti-corruption groups receiving funds.

The Bank explained this is aimed at achieving a balance in the regional distribution of funds.

This is the largest settlement of its kind yet and sets a precedent for other erring multinationals.

“Siemens is now setting a global example,” said Theo Waigel, the company’s Independent Compliance monitor.

Siemens had admitted past misconduct in its global business.

Zoellick added the World Bank was joining hands with the United Nations to launch the Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative (StAR) to help developing nations recover looted funds.

He explained StAR helps countries file international mutual legal assistance requests; implement effective confiscation measures including confiscation legislation where there is proof of criminal activity even without an actual conviction; strengthening anti-corruption agencies; form quick response teams to help investigate cases; and monitor recovered funds if requested.

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