Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


World Bank throws the book at publisher with Sudan bribery links

June 2010

The World Bank has blacklisted the UK-based publishing giant Macmillan after details emerged of the company’s business dealings in Sudan. It has banned the company from any potentially lucrative contracts financed by the organization for six years.

Macmillan has admitted paying bribes to secure a contract as part of a World Bank-funded education project in Sudan. Through an agreement between the two organizations, under which the publisher admitted making ‘corrupt payments’, the ban has been reduced from eight to six years.

The project trust fund, one of many run by the World Bank, was started in 2006 to help finance the rebuilding of south Sudan’s health and education systems after decades of civil war.

The ban is a rare example of a boycott in the publishing industry, although Lonely Planet was blacklisted over its publication of a travel guide to Burma in 2004.

The development bank said: ‘This agreement acknowledges past wrongdoing by Macmillan and demonstrates the World Bank’s unwavering commitment to ensuring all those who participate in World Bank-financed projects, including those who do not actually get contracts, are held to the highest levels of integrity.’

The company says it is now implementing a ‘revised ethical framework’, and has since voluntarily referred itself to the UK Serious Fraud Office over the incident. The World Bank has said that the ban could be cut to three years if Macmillan continues to co-operate.

World Bank | UK & NI Ireland | Boycotts

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