A former coordinator of a security programme and a Trinidadian firm that has been supplying medical equipment, have both been blacklisted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for fraudulent and collusive practices.
The Coordinator of the Citizen’s Security Programme, Abel Khemraj Rai, was for banned eight years from August 23, 2016 to August 22, 2024.
Four other companies and individuals that seem to have connections with Rai– including Sidrai Radiator Works, Sidrai Enterprises, Siddaharta Rai and Ron Jaisari were also sanctioned and banned for four to eight years.
They were found guilty of fraudulent and collusive practices.
Western Scientific Company Limited from Trinidad which did business with Guyana was handed a four-year ban from March 31, 2016 to October 15, 2020.
One related company and two individuals – SCIMED, Mario Ricard Dell and Edwin Mackoon -were also sanctioned for fraudulent practices and cannot bid for another four years.
According to the IDB website, the firms and individuals sanctioned by its Group’s Sanctions Committee were found to have engaged in fraud, corruption, collusion, coercion, or obstruction in violation of the IDB Group’s anti-corruption policies.
These findings were made through an administrative process that permitted the accused firms and/or individuals to respond to the allegations pursuant to the Sanctions Procedures.
“Sanctions are meant to prevent and deter fraud and corruption in IDB Group-financed activities.
The Sanctions Committee may impose any sanction that it deems to be appropriate under the circumstances, including but not limited to reprimand, conditions on future contracting and debarment.
Debarred firms are declared ineligible to be awarded and participate in any IDB-financed contract for the periods indicated. Ineligibility may extend to any firm or individual who directly or indirectly controls the debarred firm or any firm which the debarred firm directly or indirectly controls. In the case of a debarred individual, ineligibility may extend to any firm which the debarred individual directly or indirectly controls,” IDB said.
In 2013, it was reported that the Police Fraud Squad was reportedly investigating allegations that Coordinator of the Citizen’s Security Programme, Khemraj Rai, had forged several contracts.
It was alleged then that IDB was probing indications that Rai used his position to grant contracts to himself using someone else’s name. The IDB was funding the US$19.8 million programme.
A contractor had blown the whistle to IDB of the scheme.
Part of the Citizen Security Programme involved the rehabilitation of community centres. Reports are that Rai bid for some of those contracts using the name of contractor, Viddiadat Jaisari.
The contractor told IDB investigators that Rai had approached him so that the two of them could set up a company and bid for “outside jobs” that Rai would arrange.
However, the contractor later said that Rai abandoned the idea saying that it would represent a conflict of interest.
The contractor was employed for several years with Rai when he managed the Basic Needs Trust Fund and the Low Income Settlement Programme. The latter programme was also funded by the IDB.
Reports indicate that things became sour when Rai allegedly asked the contractor to fix the roof of his horse stable. The roof was damaged by a squall. However, the involvement of one of Rai’s relatives led to a misunderstanding and the contractor was fired.
Shortly thereafter, the contractor decided to tender for projects on his own. When he went to the Bank to collect bank statements, he was asked if he wanted statements for both accounts.
He was surprised, because he thought that the joint account with Rai was dormant, since Rai had said that they would no longer proceed with bidding for “outside jobs.”
Those bank statements revealed that Rai received and withdrew over $7 million, without the contractor’s knowledge.
The Citizen Security Programme was approved by the IDB about 10 years ago.
Part of the project was to promote social development in disadvantaged communities in Regions Four and Five.
Trinidad firm banned
Western Scientific had reportedly won a number of contracts including the supply of equipment for the state-of-the-art Police Forensic Laboratory.
This project fell, under the Citizen Security Programme (CSP) that was initiated between Government and the IDB and included three components – institutional modernisation of the Home Affairs Ministry, Community Action Component (CAC) and modernisation of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) which includes the strengthening of forensic capability.
The news of the blacklisting came as IDB’s Office of Institutional Integrity (OII), started a probe of a major contract for the installation of over 25,000 smart meters and new transmission lines across the coastlands.
The project, part of a bigger one to improve the technical efficiency of the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL), has been generating attention locally not only because of the billions of dollars involved, but with questions raised over the procedures to evaluate the bidders.
The tenders of the rehabilitation project had been opened since February, and were only reportedly granted Cabinet’s no-objection a few weeks ago – more than nine months later.
There has been no official signing of the contract with CMC, the Chinese company that was reportedly awarded the project, as is normal with a state project of this magnitude. It is unclear whether CMC has received any monies as yet.
Two Mondays ago, a bidder, Colombian-owned Enrique Lourido, which has partnered with local contractor, Fix It Depot, filed an official protest with OII citing corruption in the evaluation process and raising questions over the fact that CMC was awarded a project that was $1B over the engineer’s estimate. The bidder was the lowest.
The Parliamentary Opposition has already slammed the delay of the award, noting that it was taking too long and that it appears that something was wrong.
Both IDB and the European Union (EU) are funding the US$64M power projects.
The bidder, Enrique Lourido/Fix It Depot is questioning the decision by Government to pay China National Machinery Import and Export/Sino Hydro Corporation (China), almost a $1B over the engineer’s estimate using the excuse that it was “unforeseen risks”.
A key report by CEMCO, the local engineering company that supervised that project, had criticized the quality of work of CMC, including the laying of the submarine cable in the Demerara River.