The World Bank has debarred a consulting firm tasked to oversee a bank-financed road project in India after in-depth investigations revealed former employees’ involvement in fraudulent and corrupt practices.
The Consulting Engineering Services (India) Private Limited, which provides consulting and supervision services in infrastructure and civil engineering projects in India, will not be eligible to receive or bid for World Bank-financed projects for a period of five years. The bank made the decision after discovering that the company’s former management and staff tolerated actions by contractors hired to work on the Lucknow Muzaffarpur National Highway Project, one of priority national highway development projects by the Indian government to improve travel time, address road congestion and reduce accidents.
Former CES engineers, the bank noted in its Aug. 2 statement, had “approved forged and falsified invoices … in part in exchange for receiving improper cash payments and other things of value for their personal benefit.” Its former management also submitted “falsified” staff credentials.
CES had “agreed not to contest” the allegations for purposes of its negotiated resolution agreement with the bank, according to a statement.
The five-year sentence is based on the bank’s sanction guidelines, which cover organizations found to have committed a misconduct that involved a wide range of people, and in which management has played a role. It also takes into account contract implementation, which, in this case, has been found “moderately unsatisfactory” in a December 2012 implementation completion and results report released by the sustainable development department of the bank’s India Country Management Unit.
CES has worked with a number of of donors, including the Asian Development Bank and the African Development Bank. The World Bank decision however risks the company in being debarred by these institutions, as part of a cross-debarment agreement they signed with the bank in 2010.
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