World Bank President Ajay Banga, on Monday, February 5, denied reports claiming that a wing of the World Bank that had invested north of Ksh2 billion into a Kenyan school was actively covering up sexual abuse claims.
In March last year, The Intercept, a US media outlet, claimed in an exposé that the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private sector arm, failed to take action after reports of sexual abuse were reported at the international school between 2013 and 2018.
While appearing at a Center for Global Development public event, Banga told the press during a question and answer session that he believed no active cover-up was being perpetuated.
“I think there’s a series of things management could have done better. And that’s the discussion we’re going to have with the board shortly,” he answered according to Reuters.
World Bank President Ajay Banga.
“So I’m not going to pre-empt that. I just disagree that there was a legal effort to cover it up. That, I will not accept as a question.”
He further noted that investigations into the incident had kicked off and that depending on the report, appropriate action would be taken.
“I will take all the necessary action, but merely conjecture that is in a public space, I will refuse to sign up. That’s who I am, I’m sorry if you don’t like it,” he added.
The Intercept’s exposé had indicated that the staff of IFC failed to carry out due diligence when the allegations were made.
The sexual assault claims had been reported to involve teachers at the institutions.
At the time, the network of schools that target low-income areas such as slums in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and India served more than 750,000 pupils.
After the concerns were made, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and his colleague wrote to the U.S. Treasury Secretary asking for independent investigations.
A statement from the Treasury showed that the department was “concerned and alarmed at the prospect that children may have been sexually abused in the context of an IFC project.”
“Treasury has engaged IFC management and the CAO to understand what may have gone wrong given IFC’s robust policies intended to prevent or detect any such harm. We likewise believe any threat to the independence of the CAO – be it in fact or perception – is unacceptable,” Reuters quoted an official.
US Senator Elizabeth Warren.