FCC debarred from World Bank projects over fraudulent Colombian bid

Spanish contractor FCC Construcción has been barred for two years from bidding for World Bank-financed projects for "fraudulent and collusive" bidding practices in Colombia.

It agreed to pay $5.5m in restitution after the bank accused it of trying underhandedly to have a competitor disqualified in the process of bidding for a $500m flood control project in Bogotá.

The bank lessened the sanction period in light of "extraordinary cooperation and voluntary remedial actions taken by the company under a new shareholding structure", it said on Wednesday.

The debarment was part of a settlement agreement under which FCC did not contest the accusations and agreed to meet ongoing integrity compliance conditions.

The Barcelona-based company, which is controlled by Mexican industrialist Carlos Slim, was accused of arranging with public officials to have a competitor disqualified through a subcontractor and a commercial agent.

The bank also accused it of misrepresenting the use of the contract’s advance payment, and the composition and roles of three companies within a consortium.

FCC did not ultimately win the contract.

The bidding, which took place before Slim bought his shareholding, was for a $500m project to improve the Bogotá river, approved by the bank in 2010.

The work involved improving water quality, reducing flood risks and creating what the bank calls "multi-functional areas" along the river.

As a condition for release from sanctions, FCC committed itself to an integrity compliance programme.

FCC also agreed to pay a restitution of $5.5m to the Colombian authorities.

Listed on the Madrid stock exchange, FCC had revenues of €6.3bn in 2019. It employs around 60,000 people.

Last year, Spain’s High Court charged it with corruption and money laundering in connection with metro and healthcare contracts in Panama (see further reading).

Image: The Bogotá river has suffered from industrial discharges that have created dead zones along its length (Dreamstime)

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