AfDB’s anti-corruption fund left untouched for seven years

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has confirmed that a fund it launched to help finance anti-corruption projects has been untouched since it was created seven years ago.

The Africa Integrity Fund (AIF) was set up by the Abidjan-based bank in November 2016, using money from corruption case settlements amounting to US$55m. 

According to the Financial Times, non-governmental organisations that have applied for grants from the fund have been told it is “not yet up and running.”

The fund was launched to “finance programs which contribute to the prevention, detection, investigation and sanctioning of corruption,” according to a press release from AfDB at the time. “The Fund will equally support measures supporting the repatriation of stolen assets and alleviating the financial drain from illicit outflows on the Bank’s RMCs [regional member countries], thereby strengthening transparency and accountability in the management of public resources,” it said. 

Anna Bossman, director of the bank’s Integrity and Anti-Corruption Department in 2016, said she was confident that the AIF would “become a model for others.”

The AfDB confirmed to the Financial Times that the fund had not been operationalised because of “risks regarding conflict of interest, transparency and due process which were identified during the process of implementation.” According to the report, some of the bank’s officials, including Akinwumi Adesina, the bank’s president, had expressed concerns about using fines for anti-corruption projects. One even referred to the fund as “fruit from the poison tree.” 

The bank says the fund will now be managed by a third party to avoid commingling with bank resources. “Management has identified an independent institution to deploy the funds. The proposal to formally close the Africa Integrity Fund (which requires a board resolution) and appoint the independent institution will shortly be submitted to the board of directors for approval,” it said.

It has not been confirmed why the issue took seven years to identify, or who the “independent institution” will be.