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Morocco’s High-Speed Train Not Yet on Track


The New York Times

By Aida Alami

April 18, 2012

CASABLANCA — The Moroccan government’s cherished ambition to build a fast train linking its major cities is running into trouble.

The plan has provoked a debate not only about the wisdom of the project but also about what form development should take in a country as poor as Morocco: Should it be embracing potentially transforming technology or should it stick to basics like building schools and hospitals?

The high-speed rail link would be built with French help. It would link the country’s economic center, Casablanca, with the capital, Rabat, and Tangier, in the north. The project, expected to cost $4 billion, is to be financed by French loans and donations from Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia…Last October, Cap Democracy Morocco released a 30-page report analyzing the project’s economics and enabling Moroccan citizens to judge its merits for themselves. The report was written by Ahmed Damghi, a 25-year-old engineering student in Paris, who interned at Alstom and Veolia, both major French companies. He believes that the country could get a much better value by adjusting the existing system rather than undergoing a high-technology makeover that is unnecessary.

“Nobody can predict if it is going to be profitable or not,” Mr. Damghi said. “The decision should be made after a public debate and in a democratic manner.”

He noted that the bid had been awarded to Alstom without a competitive tender, even though there are other high-speed rail makers in Germany and Japan. The motivation, he argued, was to cozy up to France. “We all know that there are diplomatic motivations for this project,” said Mr. Damghi, “but they are not enough to justify undertaking a project that profits a small minority.” Read more.

TIZ urges probe on blacklisted company’s Itezhi-tezhi contract


The Post Newspapers Zambia

By Kabanda Chulu & Bright Mukwasa
March 20th, 2012
TIZ has challenged the government to establish how a French company blacklisted by the World Bank for corruption got a contract to supply equipment worth K135 billion for the Itezhi-tezhi power project.

The World Bank has blacklisted and fined two subsidiaries of Alstom SA, a French engineering company, after the companies allegedly offered a K781 million bribe to an entity controlled by a former senior government official (not named) for consultancy services for a World Bank-financed power-rehabilitation project in Zambia in 2002.

The Alstom subsidiaries, Alstom Hydro France and Alstom Network Schweiz AG in Switzerland, will pay K50.1 billion in restitution and be blocked from bidding on World Bank contracts for up to three years.

Commenting on the matter yesterday, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) president Reuben Lifuka said it was shocking that in 2011, the MMD government went ahead and awarded Alstom a contract to provide turbines and generators worth K135 billion for the 120-megawatt Itezhi-tezhi hydroelectric project.

“We wonder what sort of due diligence was done given the many investigations that this company and its subsidiaries are facing in a number of jurisdictions. It is absolutely necessary that a procurement audit of this particularly contract is conducted by government, with the involvement of all necessary law enforcement agencies, especially the Anti Corruption Commission. It is our expectation that the Zambian government, through the Zambia Public Procurement Authority, will equally blacklist this company from participating in any future contracts,” Lifuka said.

“We further demand that the Zambian government through the Anti Corruption Commission should immediately commence investigation against the former senior government official who received the bribe that has landed Alstom in this situation of debarment. Clearly, the action of the World Bank is a good beginning but the Zambian authorities should play their role and bring this official to book.”

He advised government to seize all proceeds of crime from the official in question in order as a deterrent to all public officers engaged in public procurements.

“It is time that as a country we do everything possible to bring to an end these criminal acts of corruption. The PF government should pursue all those that were involved in this case and bring them to book, regardless of their standing in society,” Lifuka said.

“We also demand that the World Bank clearly stipulates how the K50.1 billion restitution fee will be administered specifically for the Zambian situation. It is our considered opinion that these funds should go towards compensating Zambia for the damage caused by this act of corruption by the two Alstom subsidiaries. It is evident that the bribery paid out is a cost that the Zambian government has had to pay in terms of the loans obtained for the Zambia Power Rehabilitation Project.”

He further challenged the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the African Development Bank to equally apply the debarment measures against Alstom.

“We are aware that under the Zambia Power Rehabilitation Project, Alstom subsidiaries were involved in different aspects of the rehabilitation contracts for Victoria Falls Power Station, Kariba North Bank Power Station and Kafue Gorge Hydro Power Station and government obtained credit for this project from various funding entities, including the World Bank,
EIB, AfDB and Development Bank of Southern Africa. So it makes sense that all these entities effect the blacklisting of the two Alstom subsidiaries for the same misconduct,” said Lifuka.

Misconduct in a World Bank-financed project in Zambia


 World Bank

Enforcing Accountability: World Bank Debars Alstom Hydro France, Alstom Network Schweiz AG, and their Affiliates

 Press Release No:2012/282/INT

Companies commit to pay $9.5 million in restitution following acknowledgement of misconduct in a World Bank-financed project in Zambia

 

WASHINGTON, February 22, 2012—The World Bank Group today announced the debarment of Alstom Hydro France and Alstom Network Schweiz AG (Switzerland) – in addition to their affiliates – for a period of three years following Alstom’s acknowledgment of misconduct in relation to a Bank-financed hydropower project.

The debarment is part of a Negotiated Resolution Agreement between Alstom and the World Bank which also includes a restitution payment by the two companies totaling approximately $9.5 million. The debarment can be reduced to 21 months – with enhanced oversight – if the companies comply with all conditions of the agreement.

This case demonstrates a clear commitment from the World Bank to ensure development funds reach their intended beneficiaries while setting a high standard for global integrity where project resources may be at stake,” said Leonard McCarthy, World Bank Integrity Vice President. Alstom’s settlement with the Bank is a wake-up call to global companies that are involved in development business that need to ensure their operations with the World Bank are clean. Alstom is a major player in the hydropower sector and their commitment under this agreement is a significant step in deterring the risks of fraud and corruption.

In 2002, Alstom made an improper payment of €110,000, to an entity controlled by a former senior government official for consultancy services in relation to the World Bank-financed Zambia Power Rehabilitation Project. During the debarment period of Alstom Hydro France and Alstom Network Schweiz AG, Alstom SA and its other affiliates are conditionally non-debarred.

Under the Agreement, Alstom SA, Alstom Hydro France, Alstom Network Schweiz AG and their affiliates commit to cooperating with the World Bank’s Integrity Vice Presidency and continuing to improve their internal compliance program. The debarment of Alstom Hydro France and Alstom Network Schweiz qualifies for cross-debarment by other MDBs under the Agreement of Mutual Recognition of Debarments that was signed on April 9, 2010.

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About The World Bank Integrity Vice Presidency (INT)

The World Bank Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) is responsible for preventing, deterring and investigating allegations of fraud, collusion and corruption in World Bank projects, capitalizing on the experience of a multilingual and highly specialized team of investigators and forensic accountants.  INT’s work during this fiscal year included:

   62 debarments of firms and individuals for engaging in wrongdoing, whilejointly debarring 14 entities with other Multilateral development Banks

   Based on an INT referral, UK authorities ordered Macmillan Publishers Limited to pay over £11 million. WBG debarred Macmillan for 6 years (2010), for bribery linked to an education project in Sudan.

   The Norwegian Authorities also took prosecutorial action against three former employees of “Norconsult,” based on an INT referral.

   An International Corruption Hunters Alliance brought together 286 senior enforcement and anticorruption officials from 134 countries, to inject momentum into global anti-corruption efforts.

   A cross-debarment agreement among the Multilateral Development Banks, so that companies debarred by the Bank Group can no longer seek business from other multilateral development banks (MDBs), closing a loophole in multilateral development programs

   Cooperation agreements in support of  parallel investigations, asset recovery and information sharing with the UK Serious Fraud Office, the European Anti-Fraud Office, Interpol, the International Criminal Court, USAID, and the Australian Agency for International Development.

   Enhanced preventive training and forensic audits designed to identify and address red flags and integrity controls in World Bank projects. 

Contacts:

In Washington: Dina Elnaggar (202) 4733245, Delnaggar@worldbank.org 

For further information on the World Bank Integrity Vice Presidency, please visit:

www.worldbank.org/integrity

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