By Israel Bolaji
In the wake of global query and anger over China’s alleged complicity in the origin of COVID-19 pandemic as well as the general perception in Nigeria that Chinese businesses thrive on sharp practices, another Chinese company in Nigeria, China Zhonghao Nigeria Limited has been found guilty of fraudulent practices and banned for 18 months by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
TheConscienceng.com reports that the Continental Bank on Monday announced the debarment of China Zhonghao, a civil engineering company registered in Nigeria, effective April 14.
Our investigation gathered that the integrated Water and Civil Engineering company, established in 2002, was the first overseas branch company of Zhonghua Overseas Construction Engineering Ltd, an authorized overseas engineering contracting enterprises by Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China.
The company’s debarment followed an investigation conducted by the Bank’s Office of Integrity and Anti-Corruption which established that China Zhonghao Nigeria Limited as a member of a joint venture with Oceanic Construction and Engineering Nigeria Ltd., was jointly responsible for its joint venture partner’s fraudulent misrepresentations of its year of incorporation, the value of its reference contracts, and the experience of its key personnel, while bidding for two tenders under the Bank-financed Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Improvement Project in Nigeria.
The sanction means that China Zhonghao Nigeria Limited and its affiliates become ineligible to participate in Bank-financed projects during the debarment period.
By extension, the debarment qualifies for cross-debarment by other multilateral development banks under the Agreement for Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions, including the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank Group.
This means that the sanction also bars the company from getting funding from the other aforementioned development banks.
At the expiry of the debarment period, China Zhonghao Nigeria Limited will only be eligible to participate in Bank-financed projects on the condition that it implements an integrity compliance program consistent with the Bank’s guidelines.
Efforts to speak to the China Zhonghao Nigeria Limited failed as an email and text messages sent to the Company’s official mobile number was not responded to as at press time.
However, a statement on the embattled company claims it, “has over the past ten years undertaken various kinds of engineering works. It has been always fulfilling the work awarded with
trustiness (sic) satisfactory, engaged in Construction of Boreholes, Water Supply Schemes, and Water Treatment Plant; Construction of Roads and Bridges, Dams and Irrigation System, and Building Engineering; Conducting of Geological Engineering, Mineral Development, Power Plant, Industrial Investment and International Trade.”
We also gathered that in June 2019, the African Development Bank had earlier debarred Oceanic Construction and Engineering Nigeria Ltd. for a period of 48 months, for related fraudulent practices over the Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Improvement Project.
The Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Improvement Project is financed under the African Development Fund, an entity of the African Development Bank Group and aims at enhancing access to safe water supply services in the Nigerian states of Oyo and Taraba through, among other components, extension and rehabilitation works on the water transmission and distribution network