18 February 2009

ADB Cited 41 Firms for Corruption

Asian Development Bank
A couple of weeks ago, the World Bank (WB) Referral Report claimed that several Philippine construction contractors had rigged the bidding of road projects, which resulted to the blacklisting of three firms. The report also described how the collusion among Filipino and foreign contractors were allegedly facilitated by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s husband and a couple of other government high-ranking officials.

This time, it is the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) turn to release a report which linked and sanctioned 41 firms and 38 individuals to several corrupt practices last year. The bank’s Integrity Division said that 552 firms and individuals have been banned from working for the ADB since it began investigating corruption allegations in 1998.

The bank reported that it had received 186 complaints in 2008, which resulted in 89 investigations. These investigations ranged from a medical-benefit fraud case by a former staff member involving less than US$ 100.00 to alleged collusion in bidding for a road construction project worth more than US$ 10 million.

The report also said the ADB would not publish the list of firms and individuals, although it shares the information with other international organizations, including WB.

Based on its initial findings, 74 percent of the cases investigated involved ADB-financed activities, while 18 percent involved ADB staff members. The remainder involved sanction violations and conflicts of interest. The firms that were sanctioned as a result of the investigations are prohibited from doing business with the ADB for up to seven years, while sanctions against individuals range from one year to an indefinite period.

If the WB report created quiet a stir despite suspending on three (3) Filipino firms, then the next question will be, can the ADB report, which implicated more than three (3) companies, push the concerned sectors to initiate required reforms and punish the guilty in this country? The answer to this question will be very tricky, especially if the person or persons involved are close to the powers-that-be and can manipulate medical findings to make it appear that they are better off not attending any public hearings.

Hopefully, the next President in 2010 will take these reports about corruption and collusion very seriously and initiate a thorough investigation regardless of who will be implicated.