Leader of the Opposition, Godwin Friday speaking at Tuesday’s press conference. (iWN photo)

The award of a contract in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for which the Caribbean Development Bank  (CDB) later declared “misprocurement” was “essentially a fraud against the CDB”.

“It should be evident to all by now that what we are talking about here is the most recent example of the corruption by the ULP (Unity Labour Party) regime, and I want to set out the basic proposition that is simple and clear,” Opposition leader Godwin Friday told a press conference in Kingstown on Tuesday.

“It is clear, despite all the protestations and long, drawn-out attempts at explanations by [Prime Minister] Dr. [Ralph] Gonsalves and his acolytes, that there was fraudulent misrepresentation in the tendering process for the project, resulting in what was essentially a fraud against the CDB. 

“The CDB was made aware of the issue, the CDB investigated the issue and the CDB acted to recover its money and preserve its good name,” Friday said.

The Barbados-based CDB has concluded that the contract for the “Yarabaqua River Defence” project should not have been awarded to Reliable Construction Ltd., whose bid was EC$1,421,576.

The bank cancelled the contract after conducting a review, triggered by a complaint by Bally and Bally Investments, an unsuccessful bidder.

The CDB also ordered the government to repay the money drawn down from the loan, which Gonsalves said was some $142,000.

Bally and Bally Investments said Reliable Construction Ltd., did not meet minimum experience requirements in the key activities of gabion wall construction, reinforced concrete construction, and river training.

The firm’s managing director, Cameron Balcombe told the CDB “there has either been a false declaration made in their forms or unlawful and unfair intervention by someone of influence” on behalf of Reliable Construction Ltd.

Gonsalves has said that his government will finance the project and will keep Reliable Construction as the contractor, without putting the project out to tender again, saying this will be too time-consuming even as homeowner’s properties would be at risk of damage or destruction by bad weather if the project is put on pause.

Reliable Construction has refused to answer questions from iWitness News about its experience in gabion wall construction and river training.

Friday noted that the mission of the CDB, which was established in 1970 to act as a development bank for Caribbean countries, is to “reduce inequality and halve the incidence of extreme poverty by the end of 2025, through supporting inclusive and sustainable growth and promoting good governance”.

“You will note the reference above to ‘good governance’. About that particular subject, the CDB says that the bank ‘strives to ensure that its processes, practices and systems conform with, and adhere to applicable corporate governance standards’,” Friday said.

He said that as a result of its strict adherence to international standards of good governance, the CDB enjoys top of the line ratings on the international financial markets.

“Indeed, the CDB is one of the most highly regarded institutions in the entire region, possibly the world, and justifiably so,” he said.

A “CDB Statement on Procurement Processes”, issued last Thursday, said it is not the bank’s practice to comment publicly on the specific details of individual procurement contract awards.

The bank further said that the information in the statement “is not a comment on a specific project”.

The statement, however, said that over the past five years, US$358.5 million in contracts have been awarded to CDB-financed projects across its 15 borrowing member countries.

“Recipients of the financing are responsible for managing CDB-financed projects, including the award and administration of contracts under the projects, in accordance with the bank’s procurement policies and procedures. These are underpinned by principles of economy, efficiency, fairness and transparency,” the bank said.

The statement continued:

“Where a contract is not procured in accordance with its policies and procedures, CDB will declare misprocurement and will cancel the financing for the contract even if a no-objection had already been issued by the Bank.

“In line with international best practices, CDB’s internal governance structure includes four independent offices — Office of Integrity, Compliance and Accountability, Office of Independent Evaluation, Office of Risk Management and Internal Audit Division. These multiple lines of defence have provided effective safeguards and ensured that the Bank adheres to the principles enshrined in its procurement policies and procedures.”

At Tuesday’s press conference, Friday was asked how, in the absence of more detailed information from the CDB, does one arrive at the conclusion that corruption or fraud was perpetrated.

“I am looking at all the circumstances,” he said. “The onus must now be on those persons, the parties that were involved in the awarding of the contract and the execution of the work.”

He said that the CBD does not flippantly declare misprocurement, adding that when this occurs, “the onus is on those persons who are involved in the process to demonstrate otherwise.

“Not by making some public declaration or flying a banner in the sky and saying no fraud, no corruption,” Friday said.

“I think the onus is there [on the government] to say let’s satisfy the public that this is a serious problem because the CDB doesn’t make this decision lightly, we have an obligation to satisfy the public as to what exactly went wrong and then to make this known to the public.

“Instead, what we are having here, it seems to be more obfuscation and moreover, it is an admission that there is nothing really wrong because they are going ahead the same way.  And it is either that the CDB doesn’t know what they are doing or the government, as I say, is contemptuous of the people, the taxpayers of this country and would simply do whatever the hell they like,” he said.

The government has defended its Tenders Board’s decision to award the CDB-financed contract to Reliable Construction, saying that that they did so on the advice of the bank’s consultants and after receiving a letter of no objection from the bank. 

11 replies on “SVG committed ‘fraud against the CDB’ – opposition leader”

  1. I liked Friday as a person someone with good character . but I honestly completely lost any ounce of faith in him being capable of being a leader of a party much less our country .

    ANY FRAUD THAT WAS COMMITTED WAS DONE SO BY THE CDB ON ITSELF WHO HIRED THE CONSULTANTS TO BE ITS GATEKEEPERS AND EYES AND EARS .

    THE BOTTOM LINE IS THE CDB TURNED A BLIND EYE TO THE LACK OF EXPERIENCE BECAUSE IT WANTED TO SAVE MONEY AND NOT GO OVER A BUDGET FOR THE PROJECT .. …DINKY SPOIL THE PLAN SO NOW THE CBD AND THE CONSULTANTS ACTING DUMB/INNOCENT LOL………LAWD WHAT AH PIECE AH PASSA PASSA !!!!!

    FRIDAY PLAYING POLITICS AND WANT TO BLAME SVG GOV, …..SMFH

    1. AL, you are obviously a ULP Troll making comments on this site to deflect the truth about mis-deeds perpetrated by a few in that party. In so doing you make yourself look like you do not have a grasp on this subject at all. There are many good people in the ULP but the power-mad, greedy elitists call all the shots and give awards to thier supporters, and the good members have to act like they do not see it or just keep thier mouths shut. I hope the nasties are paying you well.
      Friday is doing what he is supposed to as leader of the opposition in this case and he is doing a good job of it. No wonder you are using all your very weak ammunition trying to shoot him down for your handlers.

  2. I will like to add ….there is a possibility fraud can be involved of which the co-conspirators could be the gov and the contractors perpetrating this fraud upon the the bank and its consultants ..

    But lets be clear here , when a leader of a party and parliamentarian starts throwing these very serious strong words out there you have to be prepared to back them up with PROOF or you open up yourself to lawsuits and being dishonorable to the country .

  3. AL you really should not comment on these things that are truly beyond your very limited understanding!

    1. thanks for your advice James but I will continue to express my privilege here on this public forum thanks to iWN .
      your use and understanding of the words dictator and regime shows your very limited mental capacity James lol

  4. Jolly Green says:

    I have had to tell AL on several occasions that he is spouting rubbish. He really is a little backwards on such matters. Unlike some he is not backwards in coming forward, he is forward in being backwards.

  5. Frauds and corruption has a horrible way, like termites in a building, of eating away at the very fabric and structures of once ordered societies, especially when men who ought to do better, turn a blind eye to such wrong doings and are sometimes the very perpetrators of those misdeeds. See here of a case in point with the former Maldives vice president.

    How fortunes have changed for this individual, as India deports this former Maldives vice president Ahmed Adeeb, who now faces corruption charges at home, after he tried to enter India on a tugboat.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/india-deports-maldives-vp-seeking-political-asylum-190803072231353.html

    To quote Alan Greenspan, that American economist who served as Chair of the Federal Reserve of the United States from 1987 to 2006. He currently works as a private adviser and provides consulting for firms through his company, Greenspan Associates LLC. Quote;

    “Corruption, embezzlement, fraud, these are all characteristics which exist everywhere. It is regrettably the way human nature functions, whether we like it or not. What successful economies do is keep it to a minimum. No one has ever eliminated any of that stuff”. Alan Greenspan

    Yet to become a successful economy, we in SVG, needs the elimination of the ever growing predatory larceny, rampant nepotism, crony capitalism, corruption, embezzlement and fraud that is so endemic throughout our state.

  6. What’s the definition of fraud? Fraud is abroad term and does not limit itself to monetary terns. The comrade may find it difficult to have a conviction, given that a reputable institution such as the CDB had a problem with the government with respect to the bidding process. […]

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