BusinessDay

World Bank suspends Nigerian firm, Managing Director over ‘appreciation’

The World Bank Group on Wednesday barred SoftTech IT Solutions and Services Ltd. (“SoftTech”), a Nigerian-based information technology solutions company for 50-months in connection with corrupt practices as part of the National Social Safety Nets Project in the country. The Bank equally barred the company’s Managing Director, Isah Salihu Kantigi for the same reason.

According to the Bretton Woods institution, the suspension makes SoftTech and Kantigi, a Nigerian national, ineligible to participate in projects and operations financed by the World Bank Group.

“They are the result of settlement agreements under which the company and Mr. Kantigi acknowledge their responsibility for the underlying sanctionable practices and agree to meet specified corporate compliance conditions as a condition for release from debarment,” the bank stated on its website.

The project is designed to provide access to targeted cash transfers to poor and vulnerable households under an expanded national social safety nets system.

According to the facts of the case, as an individual consultant, Kantigi made “appreciation” payments to project officials as a reward for his receiving of a Bank-funded consultancy services contract.

Kantigi also entered into an arrangement with other individual consultants and facilitated similar payments by them to project officials, which according to the Bank constitutes a corrupt practice under its Consultant Guidelines.

SoftTech, acting under the direction of its Managing Director, Kantigi, served as the conduit through which he and the other individual consultants made the payments to project officials.

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Under the arrangement, SoftTech received into its bank accounts multiple payments from the individual consultants and then transferred the funds into the personal accounts of the project officials, effectively serving as a financial intermediary for these consultants.

“This constitutes a corrupt practice under the World Bank’s Anti-Corruption Guidelines.

“The settlement agreements provide for reduced periods of debarment in light of Mr. Kantigi’s and SoftTech’s cooperation and acknowledgment of the misconduct.”

As conditions for release from the sanction under the terms of the settlement agreements, Kantigi has committed to undertaking corporate ethics trainings that demonstrate a commitment to personal integrity and business ethics, while SoftTech committed to implementing a code of conduct that reflects the relevant principles set out in the World Bank Group Integrity Compliance Guidelines and a corporate ethics training program.

In addition, any affiliate that Kantigi or SoftTech directly or indirectly controls, will be required to similarly implement a Code of Conduct and corporate ethics training program.

Kantigi and the company also committed to continue to fully cooperate with the World Bank Group Integrity Vice Presidency.

“The debarments of Mr. Kantigi and of SoftTech both qualify for cross-debarment by other multilateral development banks (MDBs) under the Agreement for Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions that was signed on April 9, 2010,” the Bank further stated.

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