Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Thursday, 6 May 2010 12:12 UK

Macmillan faces World Bank ban over Sudan payments

Sudanese refugee children hold their writing boards
Macmillan had been trying to secure a deal to provide educational books

A British publisher is facing a six-year ban from taking up any contracts financed by the World Bank.

The move comes after Macmillan admitted making "bribery payments" to secure a deal to print textbooks in South Sudan, the World Bank said.

International donors have pumped millions into development projects in the African region through a Multi-Donor Trust Fund run by the World Bank.

Macmillan said it was "deeply shocked" at the discovery.


The World Bank, which lends to developing countries, said the length of the ban could be cut in half if the publisher continued to co-operate with its staff.

We will not tolerate improper behaviour as a company and the fact that we have worked closely with the World Bank to reach this agreement is evidence of that
Macmillan spokesman

In its statement, the bank said the ban had already been reduced from eight years because of the speed with which Macmillan admitted the "corrupt payments".

It went on: "The World Bank Group has debarred Macmillan Limited... declaring the company ineligible to be awarded Bank-financed contracts for a period of six years in the wake of the company's admission of bribery payments relating to a trust fund-supported education project in Southern Sudan.

"Macmillan had agreed to roll out a 'compliance monitoring programme' and co-operate with the bank's efforts to fight fraud and corruption."

Annette Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan, said the publisher would not tolerate "any form of potentially unlawful behaviour".

She added: "We are deeply shocked to have discovered these issues, and are sorry for the harm that such behaviour will have done.

"Macmillan is a business with strong values rooted in education and development, which we hold dear. We will work tenaciously to protect it from bad conduct."

The company also said it has conducted a review of Macmillan Education's practices and procedures, and has begun implementation of a "revised ethical framework, including comprehensive risk assessment and training of all relevant staff".

The trust fund was set up in 2006 to finance the rebuilding of South Sudan's economy, government, health and education systems devastated by decades of civil war.

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