A Cambodian construction company has been barred from participating in World Bank projects for three years after it emerged it had bribed officials to obtain a contract, a statement released on Wednesday revealed.
Seng Enterprise Co was sanctioned by the World Bank for “engag[ing] in corrupt practices” following an investigation from the global moneylender’s Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) unit, according to a World Bank press release.
“The company paid bribes to officials, on behalf of a consortium, in order to be awarded a World Bank-financed contract under the Rural Electrification and Transmission Project,” the statement said.
It remains unclear exactly when Seng Enterprise bid for the contract and how large it was.
Seng Enterprise’s CEO, Seng Chhay Our, referred questions to his daughter, who he said was currently running the company; she could not be reached as she was abroad.
The World Bank was unable to comment as of press time.
The World Bank-financed $67.82 million Rural Electrification and Transmission Project began in 2003 and was completed in 2012.
The project was intended to make electricity cheaper and more accessible to Cambodians in rural areas, and involved building power lines and installing solar panels throughout the Cambodian countryside.
The World Bank only deemed it “moderately satisfactory” following its completion, however, as higher oil prices caused electricity rates to increase by the end of the project.
The project was also part of a previous procurement scandal in 2013.
In August 2013, the World Bank barred SNC-Lavalin Inc, a subsidiary of Canadian infrastructure company SNC-Lavalin, from participating in its contracts for ten years after bribery issues in Cambodia and Bangladesh.
The World Bank said SNC-Lavalin Inc had bribed officials to obtain a contract for the same Cambodian rural electricity project, reported to have been the construction of a $5 million energy management system for Electricite du Cambodge.
Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said public procurement corruption had a negative effect on foreign investment in the Kingdom.
“According to our consultation with businesses in Cambodia, this situation often deters companies, especially international companies, from bidding for a contract,” he said.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy, which was the World Bank’s implementing partner for the rural electricity project, did not return requests for comment from the Post.