WASHINGTON, September 18, 2019 — The World Bank today announced the one-year debarment of Spanish company Aqualia Intech S.A. (AISA) in connection with a fraudulent practice during its participation in the World Bank-financed Río Bogotá Environmental Recuperation and Flood Control Project in Colombia. AISA specializes in the design and construction of hydraulic infrastructure.
The debarment makes AISA ineligible to bid on future World Bank Group-financed projects during the period of the sanction. The debarment is part of a settlement agreement under which the company acknowledges responsibility for the underlying sanctionable practices and agrees to meet specified corporate compliance conditions as a condition for release from debarment.
The project was designed to assist the Colombian government in improving water quality, reducing flood risks, and creating multi-functional areas along the Bogotá River, with the goal of making the river an environmental asset for the Bogotá Distrito Capital metropolitan region. In the bidding process, AISA knowingly misrepresented the composition and the roles within a consortium of three companies that would execute a World Bank-financed contract. This is a fraudulent practice and allowed the consortium to qualify for the contract award, which it ultimately won. In accordance with World Bank rules, the consortium will continue to execute the current contract.
The settlement agreement provides for a reduced period of sanction in light of the company’s extraordinary cooperation. This included waiving attorney-client privilege, taking voluntary remedial actions, including voluntarily restraining from bidding on new World Bank-financed projects and undertaking internal action against responsible employees. Finally, as part of its cooperation, the company provided INT with valuable information revealing misconduct under previous leadership.
As a condition for release from sanction under the terms of the settlement agreement, the company commits to improving an integrity compliance program consistent with the principles set out in the World Bank Group Integrity Compliance Guidelines. The company also commits to continue to fully cooperate with INT.