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Premiere in Romania: Motorway Company granted a 3 million euros contract to a company created after tender began

Marţi, 8 iunie 2010, 16:02 English | Top News

In February 2007, the Romanian Motorway Company sealed a 3 million euros consultancy contract with Ascot Engineering Services SRL. The finance came from a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB). Ascot Engineering Services SRL, whose shareholders are three British, was created in October 9, 2006, four months after the tender procedures started and six days after the company submitted the offer that won the tender. Ascot Engineering Services SRL had a small tactical advantage in winning the contract - two of its associates were Romanian Motorway Company staff while the auction was on.

  • The 2006 auction commission president says he does not remember how the contract was attributed.
  • Ascot Engineering Services SRL manager says he won the contract legally
  • EIB anti-fraud department has self-notified in this case.
  • The three British have given themselves a 24,000 euros monthly salary, according to the documents attached to the tender procedure.

On April 28, 2006, CNADNR initiated he attribution procedures for a 3.17 million euros contract. The contract focused on consultancy and technical assistance services to rehabilitate roads in Romania, the 5th and 6th stages. The financed was secured through a bigger loan the Romanian state obtained from the European Investment Bank. The attribution procedure took several stages, stretching from April to December 2006. The contract was sealed in February 2007, being valid for 48 months, meaning until 2011.

Company Ascot Engineering Services SRL was named winner of the contract. According to the tender documents, Ascot Engineering Services SRL won with the most expensive offer, namely 3 179 000 euros, in contrast with the companies' consortium that ranked 2nd - 2 677 000 euros.

Ascot Engineering Services SRL won after the auction commission gave it more points for the technical offer. The way in which this contracted had been awarded raises a big question mark. HotNews.ro investigations revealed that Ascot Engineering Services SRL took part in the tender although the company was not officially registered with the Commerce Registry.

The company's history, a public document we requested from the Commerce Registry, shows that Ascot Engineering Services SRL submitted the registration request on October 6, 2006, while the official registration came on October 9. According to the tender's minutes, on October 3, the CNADNR tender commission opened the technical offers.

This means that Ascot Engineering Services SRL was registered with the Commerce Registry three days after it submitted the technical offer, the offer that won the 3.17 million euros contract.

What says the law?

  • According to the public acquisitions law, article 41, any economic operator is entitled to part in a attribution procedure. This law defines the economic operator as a physical or judicial person. Ascot Engineering Services SRL is a judicial entity. The 31/1990 Law, article 41, paragraph 1 states that a commercial society becomes a judicial person after registering with the Commerce Registry. In this case, as the Official Gazette indicates, Ascot Engineering Services SRL became a judicial person on October 9 2006, meaning six days after submitting the technical offer at the tender the company later won.

Ascot Engineering Services SRL is a company with its headquarters in Bucharest, sector 1, and with a 210 lei social capital. In 2008, its business figures read 2.652.694 lei, no staff and a 52.946 lei profit. The company has got three shareholders, all of them British citizens: Dow James Sneddon, Curran Henry Alexander and Nesbitt Andrew Kim.

In July 2006, the situation was as follows: two of Ascot Engineering Services SRL future associates were CNADNR staff and were taking part in a 3 million euros tender with the company they had not created yet. The tender file shows that Nesbitt Andrew Kim and Curran Henry Alexander were recorded in July 2006 to be CNADNR staff.

Ascot manager: I know this contract to be legal

Ascot Engineering Services SRL representatives claim they have won the contract in a legal manner and, from their point of view, there is no breach in the law. Contacted by HotNews.ro, Dow James Sneddon, the company's manager, sent an informal reply regarding the CNADNR contract: "I know it is a public tender, but the contract is confidential, I cannot give you details, I must consult my associates. I can tell you that this contract is legal. It was sealed according to certain legal procedures and it was closed after its financing agency [the European Investment Bank, n.b.] said it had no objection to it."

As for the fact that the company's associates were hired staff at the Motorway Company while the auction was on, Dow James Sneddon said: "You must appreciate that being the Motorway Company's employee does not exclude you, morally or otherwise, from pursuing new opportunities. The conflict of interests is applied only in the case when there is an involvement in preparing the documentation for the tender, and it was not the case here."

  • HotNews.ro requested a position from the EIB, which replied through its press office that the bank cannot comment contracts that it did not sign. According to them, the EIB supervises that tenders meet the European legislation, EIB rep Dušan Ondrejička told HotNews.ro. Off the record, the bank's antifraud department and investigation office representatives have self-notified after HotNews.ro asked for clarifications on the contract with Ascot Engineering Services SRL and initiated an investigation.
  • Ex-CNADNR deputy manager Florin Goruneanu was the president of the tender commission that attributed the contract. He declared he was given the role in the commission at exact the time he joined the CNADNR and he does not quite remember what happened. "Anyway, the tender procedures had already started before I came and the problem belongs to those that put together the conditions of the contract and who verified the documents. If it happened the way you say it did, it is certainly serious", Florin Goruneanu told HotNews.ro.

The three British decided they would have a 24,000 euros monthly salary, the documents attached to the tender procedure indicate. According to the contract, Henry Curran received 1,056,000 euros for his services; Dow James Sneddon was paid the same amount and Nesbitt Andrew - 600,000 euros. 360,000 euros were used to pay other experts, 56,000 paid for other employees and 55,000 covered travel costs.


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