World Bank bans OTV, Veolia Brasil for fraudulent bidding in Colombia

Collusive practices were noted on World Bank-financed Río Bogotá Environmental Recuperation and Flood Control Project

The World Bank's HQ in Washington, DC.
World Bank
The World Bank's HQ in Washington, DC.

Washington, DC-headquartered World Bank has confirmed the two-year debarment of French water engineering company OTV and one-year debarment of Brazilian water treatment technology company Veolia Water Technologies Brasil, both part of the wider Veolia group, after it emerged that the firms had followed fraudulent and collusive practices during a bidding process under the World Bank-financed Río Bogotá Environmental Recuperation and Flood Control Project in Colombia, making both companies ineligible to participate in future World Bank-financed projects. 

The debarments come as part of settlement agreements through which the firms have admitted responsibility for "underlying sanctionable practices", the World Bank said, adding they had agreed to meet specified corporate compliance conditions as a condition for release from debarment.

Designed to assist the Colombian government, the World Bank's project focused on improving water quality, reducing flood risks, and creating multi-functional areas along the Bogotá River, with the goal of making the river an environmental asset for the Bogotá Distrito Capital metropolitan region.

OTV engaged in fraudulent practices by failing to disclose fees paid to commercial agents during the tender prequalification and bidding processes in exchange for obtaining confidential information.  

The World Bank said that OTV and Veolia Water Technologies Brasil "further worked with one of these agents in an attempt to improperly influence the tendering requirements, engaging in collusive practices prohibited by the World Bank’s procurement guidelines". 

In a statement, the financial institution added: "The contract was ultimately awarded to another bidder, and neither OTV nor Veolia Water Technologies Brasil participated in the project.

"The settlement agreements provide for reduced periods of sanction in light of the companies’ cooperation and voluntary remedial actions, including encouraging honest disclosures by employees and coordinating internal investigations with World Bank Group Integrity Vice Presidency."

One of the conditions to be released from the World Bank's sanction under their settlement agreement terms is that both OTV and Veolia Water Technologies Brasil develop an integrity compliance programme in line with the World Bank's principles.

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