BusinessDay

World Bank sanction puts Nigeria’s reputation at risk – analysts

The World Bank’s blacklisting of Nigerian companies and individuals for corruption and fraud puts Nigeria’s reputation at risk Uche Uwaleke, a professor at the Department of Banking and Finance, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, said.

In its sanctions system full year (FY21) report, the World Bank Group blacklisted 18 Nigerian companies and individuals for engaging in corrupt practices, fraud, and collusive practices.

Uwaleke said this won’t be the first time the World Bank is applying sanctions in the form of debarments on Nigerian firms, noting that the frequency and the growing number of cases is worrisome.

“The action of these bad eggs, who have engaged in forgery of documents or bribery of officials, is capable of closing the doors to other genuine Nigerian firms competing for World Bank contracts. Clearly, it puts them at a disadvantage due to the fact that the World Bank would most probably subject Nigerian contractors to a higher degree of scrutiny,” he said.

Uwaleke explained that the World Bank projects were paid for in foreign currency and the loss of that has negative implications for the Nigerian economy.

Ayodele Akinwunmi, relationship manager, corporate banking at FSDH Merchant Bank Limited, said corruption was not good for a thriving economy and businesses. That is why government should continue to fight it.

The annual report covers Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21)—from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021—and was prepared by the offices of the World Bank Group’s (WBG) sanctions system, which comprises the Integrity Vice Presidency (INT), the Office of Suspension and Debarment (OSD), and the Sanctions Board.

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Debarments of the affected companies were made by the World Bank Sanctions Board, World Bank Chief Suspension and Debarment Officer and the African Development Bank.

Consequently, Elie Abou Ghazaleh and Fadi Abou Ghazaleh, alongside their firm, Abou Ghazaleh Contracting Nigeria Limited, were debarred for six months for collusive practices

The decision of the World Bank Chief Suspension and Debarment Officer (SDO) saw a Nigerian firm, Swansea Tools Resources, debarred for fraudulent practices for two years and 10 months.

According to the report the SDO determined that the respondent, a Nigerian firm, engaged in fraudulent practice by misrepresenting its past experience in its bid for a road maintenance contract under state employment and expenditure project in Nigeria. The SDO imposed on the respondent a debarment with conditional release for a minimum period of two years and 10 months. As a mitigating factor, the SDO considered the respondent’s limited cooperation with investigators, noting that the respondent produced documents and agreed to be interviewed but did not accept responsibility for the misconduct.

Juckon Construction and Allied Services Nigeria Limited was another Nigerian company debarred for corrupt practices for three years. Referred to under Sanctions Case No 649, the report said the firm made improper payment to a public official.

Okafor Glory, a Nigerian was debarred for fraudulent practices for four years, while the firm involved, Unique Concept Enterprises, was debarred for five years for same reason.

Asbeco Nigeria Limited, another Nigerian company was debarred for five years for corrupt practices.

The matter which involved Asbeco Nigeria was presented under Sanctions Case No 675. “The SDO determined that the respondent, a Nigerian firm, engaged in corrupt practices in connection with an erosion control contract under an erosion and watershed management project in Nigeria. Specifically, the SDO found that the respondent (i) made a payment of N2m (approximately $12,000) to the project’s engineer to influence his actions in connection with the procurement and/or execution of the contract, and (ii) made a facilitation payment of N50,000 (approximately $160) to the project’s cashier to influence her actions in connection with the execution of the same contract,” the report says.

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