The 9th of December marks the International Anti-Corruption Day and the adoption of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. The focus of the International Anti-Corruption Day this year is “Recover with Integrity” to raise awareness about the effects of corruption in times of crisis but also to emphasise that recovery from this crisis can only be achieved with integrity and accountability.
As the EU Bank and the biggest multilateral financial institution, the EIB Group is not immune to fraud and corruption, on the contrary, it is a target for such prohibited practices. Fraud and corruption can curtail much-needed resources for health, economic growth and innovation and they can wipe out social benefits or undermine public trust in investments. With the COVID-19 crisis, this has never been more relevant: the EIB Group plays a key role in the EU’s response to both the health and economy-related challenges that we are now facing as a continent, and across the world. Therefore, the EIB Group has to ensure that its resources aimed at supporting the recovery from this crisis reach their intended beneficiaries and are not diverted by fraud and corruption
Along with the other major Multilateral Development Banks the EIB acknowledges the need for a shared effort to fight the “cancer of corruption”, as former President of the World Bank Group James D. Wolfensohn called it, and prevent it from undermining the effectiveness of their work. Since issuing its first guidelines on fighting fraud back in 2003 the EIB Group is committed to a zero tolerance to fraud and corruption. First of all, zero tolerance does not mean zero aversion to risk in the challenging environments in which the EIB Group operates, but rather that the EIB Group will not tolerate any Prohibited Conduct and will investigate all allegations and take the appropriate action when evidence of wrongdoing is found.
For doing so, the EIB Group is equipped with the policy and institutional framework to prevent, detect, investigate and sanction fraud, corruption and other forms of Prohibited Conduct. Its core policy tools are the EIB and EIF Anti-Fraud Policies, which are aligned with relevant EU legislation, international practice, as well as with the principles enshrined in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. They outline the measures the EIB Group can take to prevent and detect Prohibited Conduct as well as the duty of EIB Group staff to report such instances. In addition, the EIB Exclusion Policy defines the measures the Bank can take against entities and individuals found to have engaged in Prohibited Conduct in EIB Group’s operations and activities.
The Inspectorate General’s Fraud Investigations Division (IG/IN) provides the EIB Group with the capacity to professionally and objectively investigate allegations of Prohibited Conduct involving EIB Group-financed activities and/or members of governing bodies or staff,
Zero tolerance is also reflected in recognising the possibilities innovative technologies and big data offer in terms of identifying fraud and corruption risks: through its Fraud Integrity Risk Scoring Tool (FIRST) the EIB is able to assess the vulnerability of its operations and detect irregularities and red flags which have not been reported and detected through regular controls.
Zero tolerance to fraud and corruption further means that the EIB Group has long acknowledged the relevance of international cooperation in addressing common challenges posed by corruption and the associated illicit financial flows. The EIB Group cooperates with, and provides relevant assistance to national authorities, international organisations, international financing institutions and agencies in the context of exchanging information and carrying out investigations.
The EIB Group remains committed to its zero tolerance policy and to being at the forefront of the fight against fraud and corruption.