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World Bank Blacklists 62 Nigerian Companies, Individuals Over Corruption

Daud Olatunji

In a damning exposé of widespread corruption within Nigeria’s corporate landscape, the World Bank has blacklisted a staggering 62 Nigerian firms and contractors for engaging in fraudulent activities. 

According to the latest report by the World Bank, as of May 12, 2024, the number of blacklisted entities has surged from 11 in 2023 to 62 in 2024.

 These companies and individuals, found guilty of repeatedly failing integrity tests and engaging in sharp practices during procurement processes, have been sanctioned for periods ranging from four to nine years.

 Their infractions include illegal documentation, fraudulent procurement practices, and improper payments to project officials.

PLATFORM TIMES’ investigation reveals a troubling trend of corruption within Nigeria’s business sector, with the percentage increase in blacklisted entities soaring from 7 to 62 between 2022 and 2023, representing a staggering rise of 520.78%. 

This surge in sanctions highlights the pervasive nature of unethical conduct and underscores the urgent need for comprehensive reforms to combat corruption effectively.

The breakdown analysis revealed that the percentage increase from 7 to 11 was 57.14% (2022-2023). 

The percentage increase from 11 to 62 was 463.64% (2023-2024). 

The affected organizations include Marseille For Engineering & Trading S.A.L Offshore (MUE Group) (Reg. No. 1163), Computech Business Services Limited, Mr. Bounlert Chanthasounthone, Taihan Netherlands B.V. (Reg. No. 74529579), T.E. New Zealand (Reg. No. 9429031962711), and Gitto Costruzioni Generali Nigeria Limited, Chez Aviv Nigeria Limited, Lutoyilex Construct Limited. Others are Softech IT Solutions and Services Limited, ALG Global Concept Limited, and AIM Consultants Limited.

 The World Bank also banned some contractors, and they are Peter Lambileki, Momodou Bousso, Gloria Beatriz Giraldo, Bamidele Obiniyi, Frank John Friday Nnaji, Isaiah Salihu Kantigi, Abuharaira Labaran, and Amin Moussalli. 

PLATFORM TIMES gathered that sanctioning contractors that breach the procurement guidelines of the World Bank is a usual occurrence the global bank does to promote transparency in contract awards and prevent procurement fraud among corporate entities it transacts business with.

 The financial institution sanctions individuals or entities that go against its procurement policies by debarring them; sometimes, they are ‘cross-debarred’. 

The blacklisted Nigerian firms. Source: World Bank. February 29, 2024. An organization or contractor is considered ‘crossly debarred‘ in this context when a member of the group of Development Financial Institutions (DFI) finds a contractor guilty of procurement fraud or related offenses, and other members of the DFI decide to effect the same sanction on the firm. 

It is called mutual enforcement. And this exists among the African Development Bank (AfDB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank Group, and the World Bank Group. Gitto’s case was of ‘cross-debarment’ from the AfDB, and the sanction took effect on December 28, 2022. 

The AfDB accused Gitto Costruzioni of ‘fraudulent and obstructive practices’ during the bid tendering for the contract award of the Bank’s Transport Sector Support Programme (Phase II). 

The apex bank has delisted it for the next four years for procurement-related offenses. The decision took effect following an investigation conducted by the Bank’s Integrity and Anti-corruption Office.

 The unit is responsible for preventing, deterring, and investigating allegations of corruption, fraud, and other sanctionable practices in the AfDB’s financed projects. 

The firm’s ineligibility period is expected to end on September 9, 2026. Gitto is located at Plot 737, Mabushi District, in Abuja. The contracts for which it was sanctioned included the rehabilitation of the Yaounde-Bafoussam-Babadjou road, the improvement of the Great Zambi-Kribi Road, and the improvement of the Maroua-Bogo-Pouss road. 

The World Bank stated, “The rehabilitation of the Yaounde-Bafoussam-Babadjou Road, Improvement of the Great Zambi-Kribi Road is aimed to respond to the urgent need for further economic development in the poorest regions of Cameroon and the Far North and East regions.” 

By the sanction, the affected firms and individuals have been prohibited from participating in World Bank-financed contracts until October 3, 2031. For instance, Nnaji, one of the affected contractors, was blacklisted on October 2, 2022, and is ineligible to participate in World-Bank-financed projects until October 3, 2031.

 He was blacklisted with Chez Aviv Nigeria Limited the same day, and the sanction extends to the same period – October 3, 2031. This implies both were banned for nine years and guilty of fraudulent and corrupt practices. 

“The period of ineligibility for Chez Aviv Nigeria Limited (“Chez Aviv”) extends to any legal entity that it directly or indirectly controls. The minimum period of ineligibility is the nine-year period indicated,” a note released by the Bank on debarred firms and individuals stated. 

The note continued, “Provided, however, that after this minimum period of ineligibility of nine years, Chez Aviv may be released from ineligibility only if it has demonstrated to the World Bank Group’s Integrity Compliance Officer that it has complied with the following conditions: “(a) Chez Aviv has taken appropriate remedial measures to address the sanctionable practices for which Chez Aviv has been sanctioned; and (b) Chez Aviv has adopted and implemented, in a manner satisfactory to the Bank, integrity compliance measures as may be imposed by the Bank Group’s Integrity Compliance Officer pursuant to subparagraph 9.03(b) of Section III.A of the Sanctions Procedures (e.g., an integrity compliance program or elements thereof) to address the sanctionable practices.”

 The Lagos-based firm, with registration number 401253, was registered on February 20, 2001. 

The directors are Igwe Anthony, Friday Nnaji, and Steve Nnaji. The alleged non-existent office building of Lutoyilex Construct Limited at Suite 295, Soar Plaza, Gwarimpa, Abuja.

 Reports have shown that breaching procurement guidelines has been a major corrupt practice perpetrated during public procurements. It is not peculiar to the private sector but also to government spending. It is a usual occurrence during every budgetary provision and contract award in the country.

 According to the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Management of Nigeria, about 30 per cent of the nation’s resources are lost due to the manipulation of its procurement process. It was gathered that some of these affected companies and individuals flouted the country’s Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2007. 

As a result, any firm that fails to comply with the above requirements is mostly considered ineligible to be awarded contracts; otherwise, such would have breached the procurement law. 

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