Debswana still has “confidence” in the awarding of a multi million pula tender to Leighton International despite continued media allegations that its parent company, Leighton Holdings has been involved in corrupt business practices across the globe. Leighton Holding is the parent company of Leighton International which partnered with Basil Reed and Botswana based Bothakga Burrow under the Majwe joint venture which was awarded the tender by Debswana to move 400 million tons of waste at Jwaneng Mine, over 5 years as part of the Cut 8 Phase II mining plan.
According to Australian media, Leighton Holdings have been accused of corrupt practices in regions where they do business, including Africa, Asia and South America. According to a Reuters report, Leighton is said to be currently under investigation by Australian authorities for multimillion dollar contracts awarded in the middle east and other parts of Asia.
Reached for comment about the new bribery allegations brought against one of their contractors , Debswana stated that they still have confidence in the Leighton led partnership.
“We have considered the allegations made and feel that they currently do not affect the ongoing works at Cut 8. As you will probably be aware, the award of such contracts is done in accordance with our company policies which call for an objective and transparent tender process. In light of the allegations, we have reviewed this and are confident in our processes. We do however take such allegations very seriously and will be keenly monitoring the investigations by the Australian authorities. In the event that there is any proven wrongdoing against our partners, we will engage with them as that would be contrary to our policies and principles”, read a response to a Business Gazette Questionnaire.
Reuters quotes Fairfax, an Australian news agency which claims to have seen internal company memo implicating the company’s management in corrupt practices. Fairfax media reported that Leighton senior executives, including highly regarded former CEO Wal King, knew about plans to pay alleged multimillion-dollar kickbacks in Iraq, Indonesia and Malaysia.
According to The Australian newspaper, claims have been made specifically on the Iraq oil contract that was worth $AUS 750 million, which a bribery kickback payment of $AUS 42 million was allegedly paid out in order to facilitate the awarding.
The awarding of the Cut 8 contract by Debswana in 2007-08 was at the time marred by allegations of tender irregularities over the conduct of its awarding. The claims were later denied by the diamond mining company. The Majwe joint venture was award a 586 million US dollar contract, around 6 Billion Pula at the time, by Debswana Diamond Company.
Bothakga Burrow Managing Director, Arthur Siwawa, who are one of the three Majwe Joint Venture partners, rubbished the allegations as old news. He referred Business Gazette to a statement by Leighton stating the same sentiments.
The statement signed by the Company Secretary Vanessa Rees denied that the company had widespread culture of corruption that was known by management. “The Iraq investigation and the construction of the barge in Indonesia are exceptional instances that are the subject of either an ongoing confidential investigation by the AFP or litigation commenced by Leighton Holdings which is before the courts.”
The statement further said the allegations were subject to a February 2012 volunteer discloser to authorities by Leighton and that there are no new allegations on the matter.
Efforts to reach the company for further explanation were not successful at the time of going to press.