“Anyone can report issues to us”: 3 questions for Bubacarr Sankareh, Head of Investigations in the AfDB’s Integrity and Anti-Corruption Department
- As Head of Investigations, do you have to investigate acts of corruption reported on African Development Bank-funded projects or within the AfDB?
I am indeed head of the division responsible for conducting enquiries, as part of the AfDB Integrity and Anti-Corruption Department. Our division is free to investigate suspected or potential cases of practices liable to sanctions in projects funded by the Bank. There are five types of sanctionable practices in the Bank: fraud, corruption, collusion, coercion and obstruction.
Our investigations may focus on external issues if there are suspicions of corruption around projects financed by the Bank that involve other entities, such as companies and consultants. But we also conduct internal enquiries, when there are questions around a member of Bank staff or if there are allegations relating to the use of the Bank’s funds, such as misuse of the Bank’s budget or breaches of the rules of procedure in institutional acquisitions.
Our enquiries may also be into the conduct of members of staff, if they are accused of harassment, professional malpractice, breach of confidentiality provisions, abuse of power, conflict of interest or any other misconduct.
- Who can report corruption and how?
Anyone can: members of Bank staff or people external to the Bank, regardless of place of residence or nationality. AfDB staff are even obliged to do so, under the AfDB policy on reporting and processing allegations, within 7 days of discovering the facts.
Allegations are treated as totally confidential. All that is needed is to drop them off directly at the Bank for my attention. This could be by sending me an email expressly addressed to the Head of the Investigations Division or by using the IACD secure, confidential email address or telephone line: firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 77 07 76 56 58 or +225 20 32 01 49. I want to make it clear that these are not part of the Bank’s telephone or email systems and that they are accessible only to IACD investigators. It is our duty to protect the identities of whistle-blowers and those making reports.
- When do you decide to launch an investigation?
Every allegation we receive is given a preliminary examination. The first thing we have to do is check that allegations addressed to us fall within our mandate. We also need to verify the credibility of the allegation, and gauge both its importance and verifiability. That is why we conduct preliminary enquiries before deciding to open an investigation.