Paris, 15 January 2014 –The Sherpa association was pleased to be informed on Friday, 10 January 2014 that the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) had dropped its plan to fund the expansion of the power plant in Nouakchott, Mauritania. Sherpa favourably welcomed this decision, which had constituted an over-the-counter contract awarded by the Mauritanian company SOMELEC to the Finnish company Wärtsilä in 2013.
This decision was made after Sherpa had notified the Islamic Development Bank by letter, and had recently met some of its leaders in Paris, in order to face the suspicions of bribery of public officers in Mauritania and other financial offences as part of the awarding of this contract.
Such suspicions result from the previous awarding of the public contract related to the power plant’s construction in 2012 to Wärtsilä’s French subsidiary under conditions which Sherpa had already denounced.
Here are some of the alarming aspects of the first public contract :
– The offer made by Wärtsilä was higher than that of the other candidates, without any explanation;
– Some competitors were excluded without any reason, such as Spanish company TSK;
– One of the Mauritanian President’s sons influenced the awarding of the contract;
– It was greatly believed that there was a bribery agreement between SOMELEC’s managing director, Mr Salem Ould Béchir, and Wärtsilä
The total cost of the expansion of the plant is around 50,000,000 euros. Taking all these elements into account, the awarding of the second contract – made by mutual agreement with Wärtsilä, and by definition not open to competitors – only adds to the already-existing doubts as to these financial infractions.
The Islamic Development Bank’s refusal to fund the contract is unprecedented
The Islamic Development Bank shows that major investment banks’ commitments for greater transparency in the awarding of public contracts can become reality. This strengthens the ethical image which the Islamic Development Banks wishes to promote.
This decision attests that the fight against corruption and the promotion of a better governance, both in Africa and elsewhere, requires the effective implementation of the vigilance commitments taken by these investment banks.
In cooperation with some Mauritanian civil society stakeholders, Sherpa intends to carry on investigating the conditions in which this contract was awarded.
– William Bourdon, President, +33 (0)1 42 60 32 60
– Sophia Lakhdar, Director, +33 (0)1 42 21 33 25
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