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For Immediate Release: Sep 23, 2002
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT ON WORLD BANK PROJECTS

Lone Environmental Analyst Pressured to Overlook Violations


Washington, DC - The sole analyst overseeing environmental compliance with U.S. participation in multinational development bank projects is being removed from his position because he persisted in raising problems about pending projects, according to a whistleblower complaint filed today with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

On September 30, the position of environmental analyst John M. Fitzgerald within the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will be abolished. The agency has not decided how it intends to perform Fitzgerald's environmental review functions, which are statutorily required.

The PEER complaint, filed on Fitzgerald's behalf, charges that USAID is eliminating the position under pressure from U.S. Treasury officials determined to secure financing for questionable energy projects in Africa, South America and Eastern Europe. The complaint documents Treasury striking sections from draft USAID reports concerning -

Liability and reliability questions surrounding a proposed nuclear power plant, K2R4, in the Ukraine;

Corruption and inadequate planning in connection with the now-stalled Bujagali Falls Dam in Uganda; and

Environmental deficiencies overlooked by sponsors in the proposed Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline. An independent World Bank review panel subsequently verified the problems that had been stricken from USAID reports. Despite these findings, the World Bank, with the support of the American delegation, approved the project anyway.

"This case is about the Bush Administration's embrace of crony capitalism," stated PEER General Counsel Dan Meyer who filed the complaint."Apart from serious environmental consequences, hundreds of millions of dollars are being wasted on poorly thought-out boondoggles in countries desperate for any investment."

The complaint names USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios, three other agency officials, as well as US Treasury Deputy Secretary John Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary William Schuerch as defendants. PEER is seeking an immediate stay of the personnel action from the Office of Special Counsel.

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Read the complaint summary.

Read an example of Treasury editing of draft Chad-Cameroon findings.