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30/01/2003 | IDB Update: Kickback Case Referred to U.S. Attorney

Martin Edwin Andersen

 

An alleged jobs-for-money kickback scheme first reported by Insight involving a longtime employee of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has been referred to the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia for criminal prosecution, the magazine has confirmed. Channing Phillips, spokesman for the Justice Department office, said that Steve Bunnell, head of the public-corruption and fraud office, received the referral, which IDB legal sources said was transmitted early last week.

The referral came just days after Insight reported [see "IDB Frustrates U.S. Justice?" Jan. 15] that the U.S. Attorney's Office had not yet received the referral of a former longtime bank official accused of running the jobs-for-money kickback scheme, as IDB President Enrique Iglesias had promised on Dec. 11.

On Oct. 1, Insight published documents [see "Corruption Corrodes Development Banks"] indicating that Armando Namis, whose last job at the bank was working for Auditor General William Taylor, was charging 10 percent on contracts he procured for contractors. Repeated attempts by Insight to contact Namis have been unsuccessful.

According to well-placed IDB sources, the delayed referral reportedly reflected a reluctance by some IDB officials to open up the bank to a wider probe. In fact, if Bunnell takes the case before a grand jury, he will not be limited strictly to the Namis case, but also can probe additional alleged wrongdoing that sources tell Insight have been brought to his attention. Before the referral, sources within the U.S. Attorney's Office said that historically it has received little cooperation from the bank concerning criminal matters.

Phillips told Insight that because the case now is an "open investigation" he could not comment any further. Several sources have told the magazine that they either had already contacted Bunnell to complain about alleged corruption beyond the allegations made in the Namis case, or were planning to do so.

Martin Edwin Andersen is a reporter for Insight

Insight Magazine (Estados Unidos)

 


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