The private-sector arm of the World Bank, the IFC, is supposed to reduce poverty by promoting private investment. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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BOGOTA: Maria Victoria Guarin was a key adviser on Colombia's biggest-ever transportation project: a 1,000-kilometer highway across mountainous terrain connecting the capital to busy Caribbean ports. As an investment officer for a World Bank unit, it was her job to help the government set the terms for competitive bidding by contractors. In an antitrust administrative complaint filed in September against Guarin and several others, the IFC is accused of failing to act on Guarin's potential conflict of interest for nearly two years, even as she allegedly tilted the bidding process for part of the $2.6 billion contract in favor of her husband's employer.The IFC allegedly stood by as the husband's employer actively sought to take advantage of the conflict of interest, according to the antitrust agency's findings.Guarin and Solano declined to comment.Aval said it was cooperating with authorities but declined to comment further.The IFC also said it notified the government and put in place safeguards to prevent any conflict of interest once news reports in July 2009 indicated Aval would take part in the bidding process. That was more than 20 months after the IFC started advising the government.In the 2017 statement, the IFC said it flagged the issue to the government a month before the hearing in coordination with an IFC department charged with managing potential conflicts.
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