Bangladesh’s Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said that a World Bank decision to use corruption allegations to cancel a $1.2-billion (U.S.) credit for a major bridge was “unacceptable” and the country would find other means to complete the project.
The World Bank on Friday cancelled a credit for the 6.2-kilometre bridge over the Padma River, which would have been the country’s longest water crossing, with immediate effect, saying it had “credible evidence” of a high-level corruption conspiracy among Bangladeshi officials.
The decision follows an “unsatisfactory” government response to the allegations, the World Bank said, adding the Washington-based lender “cannot, should not, and will not turn a blind eye to evidence of corruption.”
Mr. Muhith said the World Bank has breached diplomatic protocol. “Considering the words used and the message expressed in the statement, I have doubts whether the World Bank can issue such a statement to one of its member countries,” Mr. Muhith said in a statement .
Two former executives from Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., which bid to supervise the contractor on the project, appeared in a Toronto court last week accused of bribing officials in Bangladesh. Canadian authorities launched an investigation last year into alleged corruption in the bridge bidding process after the World Bank brought the issue to their attention.
The bridge is meant to link the country’s underdeveloped south with the capital Dhaka and the main port of Chittagong. Mr. Muhith said about 15-billion taka ($183-million) had already been spent and the country may seek funds from Malaysia or China to finish the project.