Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Corruption goes further than Africa

So often the misery of Africans are blamed on the corruption of local officials and often it cannt be denied. Other times though the corruption is wider than merely Africa.

Two former UN consultants have been jailed by a UK court for receiving bribes to rig contracts worth £66m to supply life-saving drugs to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Guido Bakker and Sijbrandus Scheffer took payments totalling £650,000 from a Danish pharmaceutical company called Missionpharma in return for helping them win lucrative contracts.  Scheffer joked they were making money by selling overpriced drugs “to dying and starving Africans”, London’s Southwark crown court heard. The pair hoped to make as much as £44m from the plot.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Michael Grieve said: “It is corruption in the context of a very large grant for the relief of disease in one of the most deprived countries on earth…I think you saw this as an opportunity to get something back for yourselves by way of a payout – a deserved pension – and you took it. It involved blatant dishonesty.” However, Scheffer,  was jailed for 15 months while Bakker was jailed for a year. The pair could be out of prison in months, as it is likely they will only have to serve half their sentence.

Their company, World Response Consulting, obtained contracts from the UN Development Programme to combat HIV and malaria in the war-ravaged African country. They used their inside knowledge to leak crucial details to Missionpharma to “stack the deck” in favour of the company in its UN bid. The men, both Dutch nationals, used their London-based solicitor Patrick Orr to set up a firm to receive these corrupt payments.

They disguised their cash through a network of offshore companies and splashed out on properties in some of London’s most exclusive districts. In an email in May 2006 to Bakker about how to “make loads of cash now”, Scheffer wrote: “Clearly supplying small amounts of grossly overpriced drugs to dying and starving Africans is a very good start.”

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