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18 Jul 2023


Cambodia: International Finance Corporation needs extra time to review and decide on opening investigation into micro-finance investments in Cambodia

"IFC Board Grants Itself Extra Time to Review Independent Accountability Mechanism’s Decision to Investigate", 18 July 2023

The Board of Directors of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has granted itself additional time to review a decision by its independent accountability mechanism to open an investigation into IFC microfinance investments in Cambodia. The Board has until 28 July 2023 to uphold or overturn the decision to investigate.

The IFC is a member of the World Bank Group, and it has made significant investments in Cambodia’s microfinance industry. Following a complaint, the independent accountability mechanism of the IFC – the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) – completed, among other steps, a seven-month-long review and on 13 June 2023 “concluded that an investigation is merited". .., IFC management requested that the Board review the CAO’s decision, by activating a never-before-used 2021 amendment to the CAO Policy.

Twenty-four stakeholders, including LICADHO, wrote a joint letter to the Board … outlining concerns about IFC management’s request for Board review. The letter reminds the Board that CAO Policy limits their review to narrow technical criteria, and that the Board is explicitly prohibited from making a judgement on the merits of the complaint.

The complaint to the CAO was submitted … by LICADHO and Equitable Cambodia on behalf of affected Cambodian microloan borrowers. Among other points, it alleges failures in IFC’s pre-project due diligence, as well as violations of IFC Performance Standards caused by unethical and predatory lending practices…