The investigation by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) has been concluded, and it has been determined that there was no wrongdoing in the procurement of consultancy services for the feasibility study and design of the new Demerara River Bridge.
Months ago, the People’s Progressive Party had requested that the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) flag the Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, because the party believed that he had broken the law by sole-sourcing the project, instead of having it processed through the Procurement Board.
The PPC had reported last August, that 12 bidders had been shortlisted for the project. It had also stated in its report on the matter that only two of the 12 companies had made proposals. That caused the process to be reset.
But while the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board approved the move for the project to be re-tendered, it wasn’t.
The $148M project was awarded to a Dutch company, LievenseCSO, by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.
As a result of the findings, the Opposition had asked SOCU to investigate the matter. Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had even made calls for criminal charges to be instituted against the Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson.
Though the PPP was adamant that the bypassing of the procurement process was illegal, SOCU stated that it has sought legal advice, and that there is no evidence that a criminal offence was committed.
The PPC report had noted that monies to be spent on the project were taken from the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (Asphalt Plant Accounts). Jagdeo had been saying for months that this constituted a misuse of funds. But even on that front, the SOCU investigation cleared the Ministry of Public Infrastructure of that accusation.
SOCU said there was no misuse of funds. It also stated that there is no evidence of collusion between LievenseCSO and personnel from the Public Infrastructure Ministry.
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