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4 Chinese firms barred from World Bank work

THE World Bank has barred four Chinese state-owned companies from working on projects it funds for up to eight years after they allegedly colluded in a bid-rigging scheme on a program to build roads in the Philippines.

The World Bank said on Thursday that an in-depth investigation unearthed evidence that China Road and Bridge Corp, China State Construction Engineering Corp, China Wuyi Co Ltd and China Geo-Engineering Corp colluded with two Philippine companies and a Korean firm to set bid prices at artificial, non-competitive levels during a tender.

The tender was for first phase of a roads improvement and management program in the Philippines. The companies' actions constitute "fraudulent practices" under the project's procurement rules, the international lender said.

The World Bank also barred three firms and an individual from the Philippines, while stopping payment of an estimated US$33 million involved in the project.

"This is one of our most important and far-reaching cases," said Leonard McCarthy, World Bank integrity vice president.

The bank said it has had a temporary suspension in place against the companies since July. A resulting investigation uncovered evidence of a "major cartel," it said.

China Road and Bridge will be blacklisted for eight years. China State Construction and China Wuyi will be barred from World Bank projects for six years, while China Geo-Engineering will be banned for five.

The bans can be reduced or terminated if a firm puts in place a compliance program satisfactory to the World Bank.

The Chinese enterprises involved in the report said the World Bank may have deficiencies in its investigative process, Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Yao Jian said yesterday.

The organization didn't fully reply to inquiries from the Chinese companies, which are seeking further clarification, Yao said.


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