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World Bank debars Spanish construction giant

The World Bank debarred a publicly-traded Spanish engineering and construction company Wednesday for two years for fraud and collusion involving a project in Colombia.

Barcelona-based FCC Construcción S.A. and 36 global subsidiaries are ineligible to participate in World Bank-financed projects during the two-year debarment.

According to the World Bank, FCC Construcción arranged with public officials, through a subcontractor and a commercial agent, to have a competitor disqualified, which is a collusive practice. The company also misrepresented how it would use the contract’s advance payment, which is a fraudulent practice.

In another bidding process, FCC Construcción knowingly misrepresented the composition and the roles of three companies within a consortium that would execute the contract, which is also a fraudulent practice, the World Bank said.

The $487 million World Bank-funded project was designed to help the Colombian government improve water quality, reduce flood risks, and create multi-functional areas along the Rio Bogota River.

FCC Construcción was not part of the consortium that ultimately won the project, the World Bank said.

As a condition of the settlement, FCC Construcción acknowledged responsibility and took voluntary remedial actions. The company agreed to develop an integrity compliance program and cooperate with the World Bank Group Integrity Vice Presidency.

FCC Construcción will also pay $5.5 million in restitution to Colombian authorities as part of the settlement, the World Bank said.

The company is listed on the Madrid stock exchange and is part of the IBEX 35. Last year it reported revenues of $7.2 billion and employed around 60,000 people.

Mexico’s Carlos Slim owns a majority of the company’s shares through Grupo Slim, according to a corporate presentation on FCC Construcción’s website.

The 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.

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

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