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World Bank names former ICC prosecutor to head corruption panel

By Daniel Bases

NEW YORK, Oct 5 (Reuters) - The former chief prosecutor ofthe International Criminal Court will lead a review ofBangladesh's investigation of alleged corruption tied to a majorbridge project, the World Bank said late on Friday.

Luis Moreno Ocampo will head the three-member panel anddeliver a report to the World Bank, one of several stepsnecessary for the Washington-based development institution toresume its $1.2 billion line of credit. Ocampo sought toprosecute individuals for crimes against humanity at the ICC,located in The Hague, Netherlands.

The World Bank canceled funding for the Padma Riverdevelopment in Bangladesh in June, saying it had "credibleevidence" of high-level corruption among Bangladeshi governmentofficials.

The Padma Multipurpose Bridge, at 4 miles (6.2 km) long,would be the longest water crossing in the country, linking theunderdeveloped south with the capital Dhaka and the main port ofChittagong.

The bank said it would resume financing of the project onceagreed measures with the government were implemented.

These include an outside panel of experts to assess thecredibility of the government's investigation into allegationsof corruption in the bridge project by the specially appointedAnti-Corruption Commission of Bangladesh (ACC).

Joining Ocampo on the panel are Timothy Tong, the formercommissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption inHong Kong, and Richard Alderman, former director of Britain'sSerious Fraud Office.

A report of its findings will also go to the government.

Bangladesh, as agreed, put all officials suspected ofinvolvement in the alleged corruption on leave until a fullinvestigation is completed, the World Bank said previously.

The other measures agreed were the appointment of a specialinquiry and prosecution team within the ACC to conduct theinvestigation; and the introduction of new procurementarrangements for the project, with more oversight andtransparency to ensure clean construction of the bridge.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said the developmentlender is committed to ensuring the Padma project is implementedwith integrity.

"This panel creates a unique opportunity for the people ofBangladesh to raise the bar on transparency, publicaccountability and governance," Kim said in the statement.

Two former executives from Canadian engineering companySNC-Lavalin Group Inc , which bid to supervise thecontractor on the bridge project, appeared in a Toronto court inJuly accused of bribing officials in Bangladesh.

Canada launched an investigation last year into allegationsof corruption in the bridge bidding process after the World Bankbrought the issue to their attention.

(Reporting by Daniel Bases; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

((daniel.bases@thomsonreuters.com)(+1 646 223 6131)(ReutersMessaging: daniel.bases.reuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: WORLDBANK BANGLADESH/CORRUPTION