GREEN Party leader Peter Sinkamba has written the European Partners against Corruption/European contact-point network against corruption (EPAC/EACN) secretariat seeking help over the controversial procurement of 42 fire engines from the EU by the Zambian government.
In a letter to the network’s president, Sinkamba stated that he understood the European Partners against Corruption (EPAC) was an independent, informal network bringing together more than 60 anti-corruption authorities and police oversight bodies from Council of Europe member countries.
He stated that he also understood that the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) was also a member.
“We understand too that the European contact-point network against corruption (EACN) and EPAC are independent forums, united in the common goal of preventing and combating corruption,” Sinkamba said. “Furthermore, we believe that one of your missions, as a network is to promote independence, impartiality, legitimacy, accountability, transparency, and accessibility in all systems created and maintained by the European Union (EU) for the independent oversight of policing and anti-corruption work, including promoting international legal instruments and mechanisms from a professional perspective. We also understand that you cooperate with other organizations, authorities, networks, and stakeholders.”
He told the network that he was seeking to establish whether or not active or passive corruption did take place in respect of a private sector transaction involving an EU domiciled supplier in Spain, and a third party procurement company Grand View International Limited, which is based in Zambia.
“The background to the suspicious transaction is that Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ), through its procurement agency, the Zambia Public Procurement Agency (ZPPA), floated a public tender for procurement of 42 Fire Engine Trucks for the emergency fire services in the Local Government. The tender was awarded to the said local company, Grand View International Limited, at the cost of US$42 million. The supplier of the trucks is an undisclosed Scania manufacturer in Spain. Meanwhile, it is a known fact that Scania AB, is a major Swedish automotive industry Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM),” Sinkamba explained.
“This procurement has stirred controversy among Zambians with many demanding answers alleging [that] the amount is outrageous. The Zambians suspect active or passive corruption in this transaction. Government, through the local government minister has defended the controversial procurement, arguing government has received value for money, and the supplier has since delivered around 32 trucks.”
He stated that President Edgar Lungu had made a call for investigation of the deal and urging those with useful information to submit such to investigative wings to help scrutinise the matter. “It is this call by the President that has prompted us to seek the services of your network so that we get to the bottom of the matter in an independent, impartial, legitimate, accountable, transparent, and accessible manner,” Sinkamba said.
“We strongly believe your network has jurisdiction on this matter considering that the transaction appears to us to be an irregularity which does not comply with EU rules in that it has the potential to negatively impact on EU financial interests contrary to Article 1 of Council Regulation 2988/95. Furthermore, we strongly believe that your network has jurisdiction on this matter since OEM (Scania AB), and its undisclosed agency in Spain, which is the supplier of the controversial trucks, are both EU domiciled,” Sinkamba stated.
He stated that he believed the network had jurisdiction over offences committed in the whole or in part within member state territories, by one of the nationals, for the benefit of a legal person with the headquarters in the member state.
“In addition, we believe your network has a responsibility of preventing the use of the EU financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorism financing,” Sinkamba stated.
“In this regard, we implore you to trigger the ‘Corruption in the Private Sector Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA’, that criminalises active and passive corruption directly or through an intermediary or in any transaction where an undue advantage of any kind has taken place. We believe that an act of active or passive corruption could have directly or indirectly have taken place in this instance, and therefore, the decision could be applicable. We believe the decision extends liability of legal persons to cover lack of supervisory control, and therefore, Scania AB, should be questioned of the extent of the OEM’s supervisory role in this transaction. We believe that sanctions contemplated by the decision, including temporary or permanent disqualification from the practice of commercial activities, could be an effective, proportional and dissuasive deterrent in this instance.”
He stated that since President Lungu had challenged citizens to submit useful information to investigative wings to help scrutinise the matter, he hoped and prayed that Zambians could only do so through the network comprising more than 60 competent anti-corruption authorities and police oversight bodies.
“Such a kind of international transaction involving colossal [amounts of] money requires deployment of international legal instruments and mechanisms, from a professional perspective, so as help establish facts. We therefore hope that your network will be united on this issue with a common goal of preventing and combating corruption not only in the EU, but indirectly here in Zambia too,” stated Sinkamba.