Tuesday, January 31

Dutch Investigators Reveal Fraud at Gambia Ports

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 By Mustapha Jarju

The Dutch fraud investigators earlier this month raided the biggest shipbuilder company (Damen Shipyards) in the Netherlands as part of their criminal investigation into a foreign bribery case which mostly focus on the case of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), the Dutch Finance Ministry`s anti-fraud agency revealed.

Investigators from the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service seized documents from the shipbuilder’s head office in Gorinchem during the raid, which was carried out last week, said agency spokeswoman Valentine Hoen.

No arrests had been made so far in connection with the case, Hoen said. Damen’s Agent Mr. Peter Post is under investigation and wiretapped.

The raid according to the agency’s Spokeswoman was first reported by Quote magazine on Monday. A company spokesman, Arold de Vries, confirmed the police search had taken place but declined to give further details.

Last March, Damen was debarred by the Word Bank for 18 months after a probe by the bank revealed the shipbuilder had acted fraudulently when it failed to disclose an agent and the commission paid to the agent in the tender to supply a fisheries patrol boat under the West Africa Regional Fisheries Programme.

However, De Vries declined to say whether the raid was linked to the World Bank case or Gambia Port Authority case. But in a tender issued by GPA for the purchase of a dredging vessel, discussions were intercepted by investigators between Damen’s agent Mr Peter Post and the Harbour Master Mr Kullay Manneh and his team. Documents seized by the investigators, according to the report, show that an offer of €19 million was given by Damen, whereas the real cost of a 60m dredging vessel does not exceed €10 million”. The award of this contract to Damen would be the biggest scandal in this small African country. Investigators are following the case closely and in secret. Damen has been repeatedly convicted for corruption cases in Africa. Damen strengthened its corporate compliance programme as part of a settlement deal, the World Bank said at the time.