The allegations of corruption surrounding the controversial Saglemi Housing Project knows no end, as contractors, Construtora OAS of Brazil appears to have been embroiled in a saga of their own.
The Brazilian construction company was named in the infamous Lava Jato scandal.
Top officials at the time were sentenced to jail and the company itself paid a whopping $1.9bn in a leniency agreement.
The contractors have come under the spotlight after it emerged that government is once again investigating the circumstances surrounding the variation of the contract which saw the initial five thousand housing units to be constructed at a cost 200million dollars changed to one thousand five hundred and two units at the same cost.
Sources close to the project told JoyNews the company’s woes in Brazil also contributed to the delay in the execution of the contract and a contention about the payment of some tax refunds owed the company.
When Parliament approved the Saglemi Housing Project on October 31, 2012, the loan agreement was between the Government and Credit Suisse International for $200,000,000 for the construction of 5,000 affordable housing units by Construtora OAS Limited.
The loan had a grace period of two years before the repayment period of five years and the maturity period of seven years. The project was expected to be completed within two years after the commencement of works.
Construtora OAS’ website describes them as having “a global presence and acting in all infrastructure segments … for both the private and public sectors, providing its customers with innovative solutions in engineering, state-of-the-art technology, quality in the performance and compliance with the time frames of its projects.”
In 2015, several publications indicated that the Brazilian company had been contracted to undertake the Saglemi project, indicating that they were one and the same as Construtora OAS Ltd which is in Accra.
The Lava Jato corruption probe in Brazilactually focused on fraudulent contracts between major construction groups and state-run oil company Petrobras.
OAS’ former president, Leo Pinheiro’s testimony was considered key for conviction of the country’s ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for receiving 3.7mn reais in illegal payments from OAS.
Lula served a portion of his sentence in jail and was recently released.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an engineer who worked on the project said on JoyPrimeTV’s morning show, Prime Morning that the issue contributed to the delay in the delivery of the project.
“Back in their home country the contractor was being investigated for corruption, so it was even part of the reasons why they were very, very aggressive in getting the refund of the taxes that they had paid despite being paid a huge amount from the project’s coffers” he said.
He added that, “Once they were pre-financing that means the money was coming from the parent company to pay for certain assets when there is a reduction in cashflow it eventually affects the project, and since the payment of that amount ends and you can’t meet the milestone you don’t get paid, and to meet the milestone you need to invest money to meet the milestone. So they were having cash flow problems from the parent company which was affecting the project.”
Government is currently waiting for AESL to finish validating the report from the Institution of Surveyors.
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