Bangladesh withdraws request for WB funding after graft allegation

DHAKA Fri Feb 1, 2013 7:31am GMT

DHAKA Feb 1 (Reuters) - Bangladesh has dropped plans to seek World Bank funding for a bridge over the Padma river after the bank withheld assistance until the government completed an investigation into allegations of corruption in the project.

The World Bank last year cancelled a $1.2 billion credit for the 6.2-km (4-mile) bridge, which would be the country's longest water crossing, after it found "credible evidence" of high-level corruption among Bangladeshi officials.

On Friday, the bank said it had received a letter from the government, withdrawing its request for funds to help build the bridge.

"The (Bangladesh government's) letter to the World Bank confirms the authorities' intent to continue the investigation of alleged corruption related to the project," the Bank said in a statement.

"The World Bank has taken note of the Government's decision of not seeking renewed World Bank financing for the Padma Bridge, and it encourages the Anti-Corruption Commission to complete a full and fair investigation of the corruption allegations."

Bangladesh's move came after World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said this week that while funding for the bridge would not resume until the government addressed the problems, the Bank remained engaged in the South Asia country with commitment of about $4.3 billion in over 30 projects.

There was no immediate comment from the Bangladeshi government. (Reporting by Anis Ahmed; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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