St Louis Gate – Capital Media seeks US intervention

In a letter addressed to Secretary of US Treasury, Steven T. Mnuchin, Capital Media calls for a thorough investigation on the allocation of St Louis Project to Danish company Burmeister &Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC).

The relevance of the move is due to the fact the USA stands as one of the most prominent funders of the African Development Bank and moreover the bribery involved is a U.S. dollar-denominated transaction which may constitute a federal offence.
In its article Key to St Louis Gate, published early June 2020, Capital Media questioned the rationale which led the Government of Mauritius and the African Development Bank to retain the bid of BWSC, given the company’s dark track record in various countries around the globe. Capital Media further believes there has been an important contribution of experts from Mott Macdonald which is deliberately being neglected. Capital Media has expressed concerns over current standards and accountability and proposed dire sanctions as to deter further cases of corruption.
The letter addressed to Secretary Mnuchin, underlines the unfairness towards taxpayers of Mauritius who will have to fork out billions to repay a loan which did comprise of “ Bribe component”. The letter has already drawn the attention of the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF), an organization which advocates the public interest of African citizens. The Chairman of PPLAAF, eminent lawyer William Bourdon has given assurance of his commitment in the quest for justice.

The letter sent out to US Treasury

Honorable Steven T. Mnuchin
Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue,
N.W.Washington,DC 20220

6th July 2020

Dear Secretary Mnuchin

Subject : Every dollar matters

Allow me to first of all, convey my warm greetings to the people of the United States of America. I hail from the Republic of Mauritius and currently serve as Chief Editor of Capital Media, a collaborative partnership of free minds offering authoritative insight on key issues affecting our civilization.

You will surely concur with me, honorable Secretary, fraudulent practices, unethical behavior and corruption within the process of public procurement (which accounts for 11 to 13 percent of our GDP) pose altogether, a serious threat to the enhancement of livelihood of our people and overall progress of society.

By means of this correspondence, I wish to draw attention of your office on the ongoing turmoil relating to what has been termed in Mauritius, as the St Louis Gate. A case of bribery and bid rigging in a power plant project partly funded (Disbursed amount of 92,296,566.18 USD) through the Public Sector Loan of the African Development Bank. The release of a communique on 8th of June 2020,by the African Development Bank revealing self-confession by Burmeister &Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC) had prompted our interest to investigate the Daedalus labyrinth of public procurement in search of processes and inbuilt mechanisms which endlessly allow the Minotaur of corruption to elude justice.

While records stand to approve my skepticism on outcome of the local inquiry currently carried out by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC),I believe there are reasonable grounds for a comprehensive investigation by the funding agency, which in this particular case is the African Development Bank. An organization whereby the United States of America is the most prominent non-African shareholder and second most significant contributor. The least shareholders could offer to tax payers of their countries, is to assure, every dollar is well spent.

The agreement reached behind closed doors between Burmeister& Wain Scandinavian Contractor and the management of the African Development Bank stands as an affront to the integrity of shareholders and causes prejudice to my debt ridden countrymen who ultimately will have to service a loan amount which did have a bribe component inbuilt. Ironically it’s the same bank which states ”Corruption remains a threat to development in Africa ……….It diverts resources away from the provision of public services, reinforces discrimination and hinders sustainable economic development”. As a matter of fact, let’s humbly recognize, the dysfunctionality observed in Africa and elsewhere arises from the cumulative effect of individual corrupt acts abetted and condoned over time.

My plea to you honorable Secretary is to call for a thorough investigation with particular focus on:
1) All projects involving Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor
2) Ensure a full disclosure to all parties concerned
3) Investigate the initial needs assessment and consultants involved
4) The reasons for initial queries by ADB on BWSC and the rationale thereafter clearing the company 5) A counter-expertise of both the Appraisal Report and Project Completion report
6) The basis for debarring BWSC for only 21 months
7) The inadmissible act of depriving Mauritian citizens of true justice

Furthermore, at a time where tax payers are calling for safeguarding of public funds and a more judicious use of their money, there is an urgent need to build trust by stepping up standards, reviewing regulations and setting up deterrents through unprecedented actions. I propose to review accountability of all companies and officials involved in projects, right from : needs assessment, project design, setting of technical specifications, drafting call for bids, tendering process, bid submission, bid evaluation, contract management, execution of works, asset disposal, variation approvals and reporting. Sanctions such as unlimited debarment and international flagging of corrupt officials should be considered.

In conclusion, honorable Secretary, I wish to recall the wise words of United States of America’s youngest President, Theodore Roosevelt who rightly stated “… there are certain subjects on which no man can compromise. For instance, there must be no compromise under any circumstances with official corruption, and of course no man should hesitate to say as much ”. In times of pitch darkness such legacy stands as a tall lighthouse.

Hoping justice will be done to my countrymen through your kind cooperation

Yours humbly

Rajen Valayden
Chief Editor
Capital Media

Capital Media

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