PPP Govt ended contract of World Bank-debarred consultant hired by APNU+AFC

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat

An international contractor that the World Bank recently announced had been slapped with a three-year debarment for corrupt practices in Guyana was, in fact, booted from the project soon after the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) assumed office.

This was announced by the Natural Resources Ministry on Wednesday, responding to the recent news articles that Carlos Barberán Diez, a Spanish consultant that the then A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government hired in 2020, has been debarred for three years.

Barberán Diez was contracted by the former Government as a Natural Gas Negotiations Specialist on January 31, 2020. He was tasked with providing technical support towards the natural gas negotiations in the then Department of Energy and was employed during the period when the APNU/AFC was illegitimately clinging to power during the election period.

“Owing to Mr Diez’s conflicts of interest and solicitation, his contract was terminated on September 13, 2020, by the current Government of Guyana in accordance with Clause 19.1.1 (e) of the General Conditions of the granted contract. As a result, the World Bank Group announced a three-year debarment with conditional release, which results in Mr Diez’s ineligibility to engage in World Bank Group-financed projects and activities beginning November 16, 2022.

“The Government of Guyana and the Ministry of Natural Resources remain committed to the sustainable, transparent, and accountable management of Guyana’s petroleum resources in compliance with international standards and best practices,” the Ministry said in its statement.

In its recent statement, the World Bank announced that Barberán Diez and his affiliates, AC Oil & Gas SL, and AC Oil & Gas Emirates LLC, had all been debarred owing to corrupt practices as part of the Petroleum Governance and Management Project in Guyana.

“It is part of a settlement agreement under which Barberán Diez acknowledges culpability for the underlying sanctionable practice and agrees to meet specified integrity compliance conditions as a condition for release from debarment,” the World Bank said in a statement.

This means that Barberán Diez and his affiliates are ineligible to participate in projects and operations financed by institutions of the World Bank Group. In explaining the facts of the case, the World Bank had said that Barberán Diez solicited bribes from various consulting firms.

“According to the facts of the case, in 2020, Barberán Diez approached four consulting companies involved in the oil and gas business, and used his position in the project to directly offer his services and solicit future payments from each of these companies.

“In exchange, he offered to influence procurement processes under the project in their favour. Although INT found no evidence of payments made to Barberán Diez by any of these companies, such a solicitation constitutes a corrupt practice under the World Bank’s Procurement Regulations and Anti-Corruption Guidelines,” the World Bank said.

According to the World Bank, a settlement agreement was reached for a reduced period of debarment due to Barberán Diez’s cooperation and voluntary remedial actions. As a condition for release from sanction, Barberán Diez also committed to undertake corporate ethics training.

Additionally, any affiliate of Barberán Diez, operational during the period of World Bank Group sanction, will be required to implement appropriate integrity compliance measures in consultation with the World Bank Group Integrity Compliance Officer. According to the World Bank, Barberán Diez also committed to fully cooperating with the World Bank Integrity Vice Presidency.

Barberán Diez and his affiliates are also liable to be cross-debarred by other multilateral development banks (MDBs) under the Agreement for Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions that was signed on April 9, 2010.