ADB stays tight-lipped on PNG Wild Cat contract case

9:51 am on 19 November 2018

The Asian Development Bank is staying tight-lipped on an allegedly corrupt infrastructure project in Papua New Guinea.

PNG PM Peter O'Neill

PNG PM Peter O'Neill Photo: AFP / Peter Parks

A company owned by PNG's prime minister won a $US32 million ADB contract through an allegedly corrupt procurement process.

This was revealed last week by the investigations network, PNGI.

Wild Cat Developments, of which Peter O'Neill was the sole shareholder, was in 2014 awarded the contract to build bridges in West New Britain.

The ADB was to pay 90 percent of the money.

A year later, however, ADB inspectors found only 10 percent of the work had been done, but 60 percent of the money had been paid.

Mr O'Neill sold his shares in Wild Cat soon after the inspectors were sent in.

The ADB subsequently terminated its contract with Wild Cat.

In response to questions from RNZ Pacific about due diligence around the contract, the ADB said the case was referred to the Bank's investigation division, but that findings were confidential.

However, its August 2017 report into the project procurement said that "serious irregularities were found".

The report was based on the findings of a project procurement-related review conducted in Port Moresby by the ADB's Office of Anticorruption and Integrity in March 2016.

It established that its project procurement-related review team conducted due diligence for executing agencies - involved in procurement, financial management, and asset management - training during its field work in early 2016.

Approximately 45 percent of the procurement findings pertain to irregularities in evaluation, the report said.

A Technical Evaluation Committee was found to have failed to properly evaluate the financial capacity of the contract's winning bidder in a civil works contract

In a civil works contract, the review identified inconsistent evaluation of the winning bidder's qualification in the bid evaluation report as far as equipment, key personnel and work experience were concerned.

The bid evaluation report indicated the winning bidder as compliant in these criteria when they were not.