Thursday, July 5, 2012

Liberia: UNMIL in Double Deal? (corruption scandal at United Nations)


The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Procurement Section has been accused of running a corrupt syndicate where a total of US$95,000 reportedly changed hand to award a contract to a local firm FMT Construction company rather than the Universal Impex Inc., which is said to have won the bid.
The Liberia Scrap Association said UNMIL's purchasing department allegedly received US$30,000.00 during its first bidding process, while in the second and third processes, it received US$15,000 and US$50,000.00 respectively to award the bid to FMT Construction Company in contravention of the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) law.
But the Mission has denied any wrongdoing or manipulations in its procurement process. UNMIL said it deals even-handedly with all potential bidding companies. The Mission Chief of Public Information, Isabella Abric told this paper Tuesday in Monrovia that all bidding procedures to award contracts are in line with UN procurement regulations.
"UNMIL has insured that it procurement procedures in place are in line with the national laws. The Mission works with government and specific concerned ministries and agencies such as the Ministry of Land, Mines and Energy, and Environmental Protection Agency," she noted.
And this, she continued, "Is to make sure that all bidders have the proper documentation such as a valid environmental protection certificate and license." She said there were various requirements that a firm should fulfill to be awarded a contract, including the capacity to deliver the service being required.
UNMIL, Isabella said, "Nevertheless takes any allegation of possible wrongdoing very seriously. If there is any substantial case, based on evidence, it is investigated both by the Mission and New York Headquarters."
She indicated that specifically, the company offered the highest bid did not have a valid scrap dealer's license at the time of bidding, saying "The highest bidder does not always win the bid as the winner of the bid needs to be in full compliance with the bidding procedure and provide the appropriate documentation."
About the two previous cases, the Chief of Public Information said UNMIL discovered that some of the bidders did not have the proper documentation, and the process had to start again because the alleged winner was not in compliance with the bidding procedures.
She denied report that UNMIL Chief Procurement Officer, Josie Vallimin was sacked from her post in line with the alleged corruption syndicate. Isabella said her colleague (Josie) was transferred to another office not because of claims in the local media.
However, the Liberia Scrap Association has insisted that the winner of the bid, FMT Construction Company was never qualified by the technical team, noting that one Esia Esam, (then Head of UNMIL Environmental Unit), who unscrupulously and unilaterally submitted FMT Construction Company.
"This proves that there is a syndicate operation within UNMIL Procurement and Technical Units that award scrap contracts to those, who offered bribe, because why will FMT Construction be awarded a contract that it wasn't qualified for,?" the scrap dealers questioned.
In a written communication to the Minister of State for Legal Affairs Seaward Cooper, the Liberia Scrap Association said FMT Construction Company was never qualified by the technical team set up to screen the submissions, adding "One Esia Esam (then Environmental Unit Head-UNMIL), unscrupulously and unilaterally submitted FMT Construction Company as technically qualified, when he wasn't qualified."
The association said during the bidding processes, Universal Impex Inc. with license # SD-002-1100-12 emerged as winner of all three bids, but instead, UNMIL awarded the bid to FMT Construction Company.

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