Contractor Fined for Bid-Rigging, Chosen Over Two Unnamed Firms by Two Unnamed
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, July
27 -- The UN on Friday announced that it has chosen, through a competitive and
open process, Swedish conglomerate Skanska, which it called a highly ethical
firm, as the construction manager to renovate its headquarters building, work
worth over $1 billion.
Skanska was fined $25 million earlier in
the month for bid-rigging and
operating a cartel in connection with other construction projects.
City Press' request for the names of the other two finalists was rebuffed. Under
Secretary General for Management Alicia Barcena said she "would prefer not to
mention their names, I don't think it would be appropriate." Video here, from
Minute 34:03. Ms. Barcena said that the head of the UN's Ethical Office, Robert
Benson, had "brought in two external people" to review Skanska "all over the
world, to make sure they have no problems." This finding was made, she said, in
a June 12 report.
City Press asked Paul Buardes, Chief of the UN Procurement Service, for the
names of the two "external people." Mr. Buardes said to ask Bob Benson. An
e-mail to Mr. Benson and his colleague Susan John, asking among other things for
the two names and if the July 10 bid-rigging verdict against Skanska was
considered, was not returned by deadline.
verdict was not hard to find. The AP Financial Wire of July 10
"A group of Swedish construction companies
including Skanska AB and NCC AB were found guilty Tuesday of acting as a
cartel... The Stockholm district court ruled that Skanska, NCC and six other
companies in conjunction with the National Road Administration fixed bidding
contests for building contracts. They were ordered to pay a total of $68 million
in fines. Skanska was fined 170 million kronor ($25 million)... The court said
the companies fixed bidding contests for construction projects awarded by the
road administration in southern and central Sweden. It also ruled that NCC,
Skanska, Peab Sverige and the road administration breached antitrust laws by
agreeing on the distribution of contracts to rebuild bus stations in the city of
the UN finally put in place the
freedom of information procedure which Ms.
Barcena has said is being improved and finalized?
"We are working on that," Ms. Barcena said, saying she would come and give
another briefing on management issues.
Ten floors at a time...
course of the billion dollar renovation, some 700 UN employees are to move to a
building the UN is renting, on 46th Street near Second Avenue. Inner City Press
asked Ms. Barcena how much the UN is paying, and if it is true that the UN will
be doing most of the construction in the "swing space." Ms. Barcena acknowledged
that the UN "has to prepare that building," with the help of the "construction
management," presumably Skanska, but that she didn't have the budget figures
with her, and to ask John Clarkson. The subsequent response Inner City Press got
is that the UN will pay for work on the space it will occupy, but not the
elevators or bathrooms. Again, no budget information was provided by deadline.
one piece of information was promised to be given in the (near) future: the
names of the two losing bidders. UN Procurement's Paul Buardes said that he
couldn't give the names because "they haven't been notified yet."
already know," Inner City Press pointed out.
to send the regret letter," Mr. Buardes said, adding that once that is done he
will provide the two names. We'll see.
An aside: it
would have been nice, if the UN was aware of the bid-rigging fine against
Skanska, to have it mentioned and addressed in some way in the opening
presentation, and for the two losing bidders and the two reviewers to have been
named. Freedom of information? We ain't seen nothing yet.
* * *
piece by this correspondent about the ongoing National Reconciliation Congress
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