This Week in Corruption – Oxford University Press and World Bank education projects in Africa

Children in a classroom in Kenya. Two Oxford press units have been debarred for bribing government officials to win tenders and contracts for World Bank-financed education projects in East Africa. Photo by: Curt Carnemark / World Bank / CC BY-NC
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Children in a classroom in Kenya. Two Oxford press units have been debarred for bribing government officials to win tenders and contracts for World Bank-financed education projects in East Africa. Photo by: Curt Carnemark / World Bank / CC BY-NC

Oxford University Press has acknowledged the “misconduct” of its two subsidiaries that bribed government officials to win tenders and contracts to supply text books to two World Bank-financed education projects in East Africa, according to a press release.

World Bank debarred Oxford University Press East Africa Ltd. and Oxford University Press Tanzania Tuesday (July 3) following OUP’s acknowledgment. This means both units will not be eligible for World Bank-financed projects for three years. They are also in danger of being blacklisted by other multilateral development banks under a 2010 cross-debarment agreement.

The publishing company, meanwhile, has decided to contribute 2 million pounds ($3.13 million) for teacher training and other education-related programs in sub-Saharan Africa, apart from agreeing to pay the World Bank $500,000 for its subsidiaries’ misdeeds.

The two subsidiaries operate in Kenya, Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda, Reuters reports. Oxford Publishing Ltd., OUP’s publishing arm, has also agreed to pay the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office 1.9 million pounds in relation to the case.

Apart from the payments, OUP will take “disciplinary action” against those involved, according to a press release.

This is not the first time a publishing company has been subjected to debarment by the World Bank. In 2010, the bank also debarred Macmillan Ltd. after the U.K. publishing group admitted to engaging in bribery in an education project funded through the Sudan Multidonor Trust Fund. The World Bank manages the trust fund.

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