The World Bank Group has announced the twenty-eight-month debarment of Kenya-based Techno Brain (Kenya) Limited (“Techno Brain Kenya”), an IT-services company, and the ten-month debarment of its parent company, United Arab Emirates-based Techno Brain Global FZ-LLC (“Techno Brain UAE”), in connection with collusive and fraudulent practices as part of the Integrated Public Financial Management Reform Project II in Liberia.
The debarments, according to an October 8 World Bank release, make Techno Brain Kenya and Techno Brain UAE ineligible to participate in projects and operations financed by institutions of the World Bank Group. It is part of a settlement agreement under which the companies acknowledge culpability and responsibility for the underlying sanctionable practices and agree to meet specified corporate compliance conditions as a condition for release from debarment.
Following the initial ten-month debarment, the sanction of Techno Brain UAE will convert to a conditional non-debarment for a period of eighteen months, which means that it will again be eligible to participate in projects and operations financed by institutions of the World Bank Group as long as it complies with its obligations under the settlement agreement. Otherwise, the conditional non-debarment will revert to a sanction of debarment with conditional release, and the company then will become ineligible to participate in World Bank Group projects and operations until the conditions for release set out in the settlement agreement are met.
The project, since renamed as the Public Financial Management Reforms for Institutional Strengthening project, was designed to improve domestic revenue mobilization systems and strengthen financial control and accountability in public finances. According to the facts of the case, Techno Brain Kenya and Techno Brain UAE engaged in an arrangement to obtain and edit confidential bidding documentation so as to influence the awarding of a contract in their favor. Techno Brain Kenya was subsequently awarded the contract, even though its bid did not meet tender requirements, thus necessitating a substantial reduction in the extent of work provided under the contract. Furthermore, Techno Brain Kenya, guided by Techno Brain UAE, claimed technical qualifications of sister companies as its own to meet contract specifications. These actions are considered collusive and fraudulent practices, respectively, as defined by the World Bank’s Procurement Regulations.
The settlement agreement provides for a reduced period of sanction in light of the company’s cooperation and voluntary remedial actions. As a condition for release from sanction under the terms of the settlement agreement, the company commits to developing an integrity compliance program consistent with the principles set out in the World Bank Group Integrity Compliance Guidelines.
The debarment of Techno Brain Kenya qualifies for cross-debarment by other multilateral development banks (MDBs) under the Agreement for Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions that was signed on April 9, 2010.