Press Release No:129/2007/INT
|Media Contacts: In South Africa – Mallory Saleson: 27-12-431-3100; In Washington – David Theis (202) 458-8626;Amy Stilwell (202) 458-4906|
|PRETORIA, South Africa, November 6, 2006 — The World Bank has declared Lahmeyer International GmbH (Lahmeyer), a German company, ineligible to be awarded Bank-financed contracts for a period of seven years, because of corrupt activities in connection with the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP). The period of ineligibility may be reduced by four years if the Bank determines that Lahmeyer has met specific compliance conditions and fully cooperated with the Bank in disclosing past sanctionable misconduct.The World Bank’s Sanctions Committee found that Lahmeyer engaged in corrupt activities by bribing the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority’s Chief Executive, Mr. Masupha Sole, the government official responsible for contract award and implementation under the LHWP, in violation of the Bank’s procurement guidelines. In July 2004, the World Bank debarred Acres International, another firm convicted of paying bribes under the LHWP, for a period of three years. Two other European firms were also convicted in Lesotho in relation to the LHWP, although they were not involved in the Bank-financed portions of the project.“The Government of Lesotho has shown courage and leadership in successfully prosecuting its own officials and several large foreign companies for corruption,” said World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz. “Institutions like the World Bank, and the governments of rich countries, should support the bold stance of poor countries like Lesotho which are working to make sure that precious public resources go to help the poor, for whom they are intended.”The case is a re-opening of 2001 debarment proceedings against Lahmeyer in relation to the LHWP. The Government of Lesotho announced criminal indictments of Lahmeyer and Mr. Sole in 1999. Following the announcement of the indictments, the World Bank’s Department of Institutional Integrity initiated an investigation into whether Lahmeyer had engaged in corrupt practices in relation to its contracts with the Bank. In October 2001, the Sanctions Committee found that the evidence was not sufficient to make a determination, and said that it would re-examine its findings in light of any additional relevant information. In 2002 and 2003, the High Court of Lesotho convicted Mr. Sole and Lahmeyer of bribery. The Court of Appeal of Lesothoaffirmed Mr. Sole’s conviction in April 2003, and Lahmeyer’s conviction on six of seven counts in April 2004. In light of the information obtained from these decisions, the World Bank re-opened debarment proceedings against Lahmeyer in August 2005.Once the indictments were announced in mid-1999, the World Bank provided extensive evidentiary support to the Lesotho prosecutors and made Bank staff available for interviews. The World Bank later assisted the Government by bringing together the Lesotho prosecutors with the various project funding agencies and EU anti-fraud officials. The Bank benefited greatly from the investigative work done by the Lesotho Government in bringing the debarment case against Lahmeyer and Acres. “We are very grateful to the Government of Lesotho for its leadership in the fight against corruption,” Wolfowitz said.The LHWP is a massive, multi-billion dollar water transfer and hydropower project implemented by governments of Lesotho and South Africa. The project is designed principally to transfer water from the Maluti Mountains in eastern and central Lesotho to the Gauteng Province of South Africa. In connection with the LHWP, Lahmeyer was found to have arranged bribery payments to Mr. Sole. Lahmeyer received two World Bank contracts pertaining to the water transfer component that related to detailed design work, construction supervision, project studies and technical assistance in connection with the Water Delivery Tunnel South and the Mohale Tunnel.In making its recommendation to World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, the Committee took into account several factors, including Lahmeyer’s lack of cooperation with respect to the World Bank’s investigation, as well as Lahmeyer’s payment of a criminal fine in Lesotho and its cooperation with the Lesothoauthorities.
Accordingly, the Bank has decided to allow for a possible four-year reduction in the debarment period if Lahmeyer puts in place a satisfactory corporate compliance and ethics program and cooperates fully with the Bank in disclosing any past misconduct, including through a review of its Bank-financed contracts.
“This sanction reflects a serious response to corrupt practices,” said Graeme Wheeler, Managing Director of the World Bank Group and Chairman of the Bank’s Sanctions Committee. “At the same time, the sanction is structured to encourage Lahmeyer to demonstrate that its contracts and practices now meet the high standards that are essential to the Bank’s work.”
The World Bank Department of Institutional Integrity (INT) is charged with investigating allegations of fraud and corruption in Bank-financed projects. The department reports directly to the President of the World Bank and is staffed by a multinational team including investigators, legal specialists, forensic accountants, and others. Additional information can be found at http://www.worldbank.org/integrity .
The sanctions process is an internal administrative process within the World Bank. It provides for due process of all parties involved in a dispute. Since the Sanctions Committee was established in November 1998, the World Bank sanctioned more than 330 firms and individuals. For more information on procurement and sanctions, see: http://www.worldbank.org/procure.
For more information on the World Bank’s anti-corruption policies and activities, see: http://www.worldbank.org/anticorruption.
minn Carmel Cacopardo
ippubblikat nhar l-Erbgħa 21 t’April 2010
Sadanittant in-nies tibqa’ tixtri l-proprjetà u kontinwament teżamina l-opportunitajiet li s-suq jipprovdi. Is-suq tal-kera jeħtieġ ftit tas-snin biex jiżviluppa mill-ġdid. Imbagħad ikun apprezzat li hemm ċirkostanzi fejn jaqbel li tikri flok tixtri proprjetà.
In-nies li tixtri sfortunatament mhux dejjem hi konxja tad-drittijiet tagħha. Min ibigħ dan jafu sewwa u mhux darba jew tnejn li jkun hemm min japprofitta ruħu minn din is-sitwazzjoni. Huwa fl-opinjoni tiegħi meħtieġ li min ibigħ ikun obbligat li jipprovdi informazzjoni sħiħa u korretta dwar dak li qed jinbiegħ. Dan jgħodd kemm meta l-bejgħ isir direttament mis-sid kif ukoll meta jsir permezz ta’ aġent.
F’diversi pajjiżi oħrajn hekk isir. B’mod partikolari l-aġenti tal-proprjetà (‘estate agents’) għandhom rwol importanti f’dan is-sens. Min jagħmel użu mis-servizz ta’ dawn l-aġenti ġustament jassumi li dawn jassiguraw il-kwalità. Jiġifieri meta biex tixtri l-proprjetà tagħmel użu minn servizz ta’ aġent tal-proprjetà inti tassumi li dan l-aġent ikun diġà eżamina sewwa dik il-proprjetà. Tassumi wkoll li l-aġent ikun jista’ jiggwidak lejn dik il-proprjetà l-aktar addattata għall-ħtiġijiet tiegħek. Fl-ebda ħin ma jgħaddilek minn moħħok li meta aġent jaċċetta fuq il-kotba tiegħu xi proprjetà biex joffriha għall-bejgħ, din tkun difettuża, għax fost affarijiet oħrajn ma tkunx mibnija skont il-permessi. Meta tmur għand l-aġent tmur għax tafdah u allura tistenna li jagħtik l-informazzjoni kollha li tkun meħtieġa. Ma tistenniex li aġent ma jinformakx għax ma jafx, jew, agħar li jaħbilek informazzjoni biex ikun jista’ jdaħħal il-kummissjoni dovuta lilu mill-bejjiegħ hekk kif jiġi negozjat il-bejgħ.
Sfortunatament l-affarijiet mhumiex dejjem hekk. Għalkemm in-numru ta’ każijiet mhuwiex wieħed kbir, dan qiegħed dejjem jiżdied. Xi aġenti qegħdin joffru proprjetà li dwarha jew ma jagħmlux il-verifiki inkella jagħlqu għajnejhom għal dak li jaraw. Ma jiħdux pjaċir meta xerrejja potenzjali jirrealizzaw li kienu se jingidmu u wara li jieħdu parir ifittxu li jħassru kull impenn li jixtru jew konvenju li jkunu għamlu (meta dan ikun possibbli).
Dawk li jfittxu parir għax ma joqogħdux fuq dak li jgħidilhom l-aġent jagħmlu dan biex jassiguraw ruħhom li ma jingidmux. Sfortunatament iżda, hemm ftit, dawk li jafdaw wisq, li xorta jingidmu. Il-flus li jkunu laħqu ħallsu b’sagrifiċċju mhux dejjem ikun faċli biex jiġbruhom lura.
Mhux darba jew tnejn li ltqajt ma’ każijiet li l-proprjetà offruta għall-bejgħ minn aġenti tal-proprjetà tkun difettuża fis-sens li tkun mibnija b’mod li ma tkunx koperta b’permess tal-bini. Bosta drabi, għal min jifhem, ma jkunx diffiċli li tidentifika dan il-fatt. Mhux il-każ li nsemmi hawnhekk każijiet speċifiċi, iżda naf b’numru. Xi drabi l-problemi jitfaċċaw wara l-iffirmar tal-konvenju u xi drabi wara l-kuntratt ukoll.
Dawk li jixtru l-proprjetà jagħmlu sagrifiċċji kbar biex ikunu f’pożizzjoni li jħallsu għall-akkwist li jagħmlu. Jagħmlu użu minn dak li jkunu faddlu kif ukoll jissellfu mill-banek. Għandhom dritt għal servizz ħafna aħjar milli qed jingħataw uħud. Min joffri jew jiffaċilita dan it-tip ta’ bejgħ qed jonqos u jagħti isem ħażin lil kulħadd.
L-ebda wieħed mill-aġenti tal-proprjetà ma jixtieq jieħu l-inizjattiva biex ma jaċċettax fuq il-kotba tiegħu proprjetà difettuża. Jippreferu li jaħslu jdejhom billi jgħidu li mhix responsabbiltà tagħhom li jieħdu dawn it-tip ta’ deċiżjonijiet.
Ikun f’loku li l-aġenti tal-proprjetà jieħdu l-inizjattiva huma u jistabbilixxu bejniethom regoli li japplikaw għall-aġenti kollha li bihom jipproteġu l-ewwel nett lill-konsumatur u b’mod indirett lilhom infushom ukoll. Jekk dan idum ma jsir naħseb li wasal iż-żmien li l-Parlament jikkonsidra li jirregola hu din il-ħidma. Għax il-konsumatur jeħtieġ li jkun protett minn sidien u aġenti bla skrupli.
by Carmel Cacopardo
published on April 10, 2010
The publication of the State of the Environment Report (SoER) for 2008 is an opportunity to take stock of the manner in which environmental responsibilities are being shouldered or neglected. One point the SoER fails to inform about is the link between overdevelopment and a negative social and environmental impact on the community.
Tigné peninsula in Sliema is a suitable example.
Two of the mega-projects in Tigné, namely the Midi and Fort Cambridge projects, have government fingerprints. The social and environmental impacts on the Sliema community more than outweigh the economic benefits derived. Yet, they have been given the go-ahead. While these two mega-projects were approved by Mepa, a third (Townsquare) is being processed. Other projects of various sizes and impacts have been approved or are in the pipeline both in Tigné and in other parts of Sliema.
Focusing on the macro-scale, three main issues need to be addressed: vacant dwellings, traffic generation and the quality of air.
In my opinion, given the large number of vacant dwellings, further large-scale development is not required. About 54,000 vacant dwellings were identified during the 2005 census and this number has been on the increase ever since.
Newly-constructed dwellings may or will be occupied but they are still the cause of a disintegration of the existing urban fabric in various localities as a result of an internal migration away from existing settlements.
Some areas are being depopulated, awaiting their turn to be demolished and redeveloped after someone makes a quick buck. The few remaining tenants are then squeezed out by “developers”. Some years back, an old lady at The Strand, Sliema, was faced with buildings being demolished all around (and above) her home in order to persuade her to move out.
This is resulting not just in urban decay but also in the forfeiture of an accumulated social capital.
This is not surprising in a society that only appreciates financial capital. Unfortunately, public authorities are on the same wavelength.
The 710 vehicles on the road per 1,000 population (2008 figures) is substantial. In a small country, rather than being a sign of affluence, this vehicle per capita ratio is the clearest indicator of the failure of public policy to address issues of sustainable mobility over the years. Past governments have been ineffective in this respect. The large number of dwellings being constructed at Tigné peninsula begs the question as to where the substantial additional traffic generated is to be accommodated. I am referring to both the traffic directed at the new residences and that directed towards the new commercial outlets. Roads in Malta are already bursting at the seams.
When Mepa is approving more intensive development through the construction of high-rise buildings, it is not giving sufficient weight to these impacts. In particular, it is ignoring the cumulative effects of so large a number of developments in so restricted a space.
A Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) of the local plans and planning policies would have pinpointed these shortcomings had it been carried out. Yet, the government tried to wriggle out of its responsibilities by clinging to a loophole, which exempted it from applying the SEA to policies on land-use planning. This has been done by a government that boasts about the central importance of the environment in its electoral platform. Yet, when push comes to shove, it wriggles out of its commitments.
Quality of air data is only made available relative to 2006 and 2007 in the SoER indicators.
Limiting my comments to the 2007 data relative to the Msida station, the available SoER indicators clearly show that PM10 measurements exceeded the EU limits on 24 per cent of the days measured and were very close to the permissible limit of 50μg/m3 with respect to the rest.
PM10 measures particulate matter, having a diameter not exceeding 10 microns. The primary source of such particulate matter, as is also emphasised by the SoER indicators, is fuel combustion from traffic and power generation. It is therefore clear that heavy traffic increases the incidence of PM10 with the consequent risks of a greater incidence of respiratory diseases. Studies carried out in Fgura and Żejtun in the 1990s point in this direction too.
These are the risks posed by an increase in traffic in an area such as Sliema, which is already heavily congested.
The issue of development has so far been considered within the framework of the rights of the owners of the property to be developed. It is about time that the rights of the community are factored in as, to date, they are not being given sufficient weight. In particular, the cumulative impacts of development are being ignored. This is applicable not just to Sliema but to all Maltese territory.
The net result is a quality of life which could be much better.