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World Bank debars units of French water treatment company

The World Bank Wednesday debarred two subsidiaries of Paris-based Veolia Water Technologies for “fraudulent and collusive practices” involving a project in Colombia.

France’s OTV was debarred for two years and Veolia Water Technologies Brasil Ltda was debarred for one year.

Both are ineligible to participate in World Bank-financed projects during the debarments.

OTV engaged in fraudulent practices by failing to disclose fees paid to commercial agents during the tender prequalification and bidding processes, and the agents assisted the company in obtaining confidential information, the World Bank said.

OTV and VWT Brasil also worked with one of the agents and attempted to “improperly influence the tendering requirements” and engage in collusive practices that are prohibited by the World Bank’s procurement guidelines.

According to the World Bank, the contract was ultimately awarded to another bidder and neither OTV nor VWT Brasil participated in the project.

The $410 million Río Bogotá Environmental Recuperation and Flood Control Project in Colombia was designed to improve water quality, reduce flood risks, and create multi-functional areas along the river.

As a condition of the settlement, OTV and VWT Brasil committed to developing an integrity compliance program consistent with the principles set out in the World Bank Group Integrity Compliance Guidelines and to continue fully cooperating with the World Bank Group Integrity Vice Presidency.

Wednesday’s OTV debarment qualifies for cross-debarment by the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the African Development Bank. 

VWT Brasil’s one-year debarment is not eligible for cross debarment by other development banks. To be eligible for cross debarment, the duration must be more than a year.

A list of all World Bank debarred entities and individuals is here.

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Harry Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.

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