Cambi, a company competing with Efacec in the construction of a biogas plant in Norway, filed complaints due to the fact that the former majority shareholder is the businesswoman Isabel dos Santos.
Norwegian company Cambi, a competitor of Efacec in a tender to build a biogas plant in Norway, contested it due to previous shareholder connections to businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, was known this Wednesday.
According to a statement released by the public company that hired Efacec, Nedre Romerike Avløpsselskap (NRA), the contract with the Portuguese company is worth approximately 220 million crowns (20.9 million euros).
“Nedre Romerike Avløpsselskap intends to agree with the Portuguese company Efacec to build a biogas plant oriented towards the future”, located in the municipality of Lillestrøm, about 20 kilometers from the capital Oslo, the company announced in a statement.
According to a report published in the Norwegian newspaper E24, Efacec’s offer was 140 and 162 million Norwegian crowns (about 13.3 and 15.4 million euros, respectively) lower than that of its competitors, among which Cambi.
According to the documentation to which Lusa had access, the company competing with Efacec lodged complaints with the NRA and an appeal to the Norwegian Public Procurement Appeals Council (KOFA), due to the fact that the former majority shareholder of Efacec is the businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, and also due to the price.
Considering the enormous international coverage of the corruption scandal that surrounds Isabel dos Santos and her former and now contested participation of more than 70% in Efacec, we are very surprised that Efacec participated in the contest and was considered a winner ”, you can read in a letter sent by Cambi to the NRA.
On January 19, the businesswoman saw her name involved in the “Luanda Leaks” case, in which the International Investigative Journalism Consortium revealed more than 715,000 files detailing alleged financial schemes by the businesswoman and her husband that will have allowed them to withdraw money from Angolan public purse through tax havens.
On July 2, the Government approved a decree-law to nationalize 71.73% of Efacec’s share capital, having already approved on December 10 the specifications for the reprivatization of that capital, providing that the process will take about six months.
Cambi says that the NRA tender procedure “took place at the same time as the corruption scandal involving Isabel dos Santos”, and also raises doubts about its shareholder position in Efacec, that the businesswoman, who has the assets frozen in Portugal and Angola still complains.
In the formal complaint before the Public Procurement Appeals Council (KOFA), the company that lost the tender defends that “Efacec should never have been pre-qualified for the tender” due to the shareholder position of Isabel dos Santos and the fact that Mário Leite da Silva, considered the “right-hand man” of the businesswoman and whose name is also involved in the “Luanda Leaks”, having been the chairman of the company’s Board of Directors.
It is not possible that those who received Efacec’s prequalification documents did not know that the company’s largest shareholder and the Chairman of the Board of Directors were involved in a major corruption scandal at the same time ”, the letter reads.
In response to Cambi, lawyer Marianne Dragsten, who represents the contractor for the NRA project, says that “there is not enough basis to trigger Efacec’s right to reject it as a result of allegations of corruption against Isabel dos Santos”.
“Based on the information available about the corruption allegations against Isabel dos Santos, the client understands that there is an investigation underway,” says the NRA, noting that “Isabel dos Santos was not convicted”.
According to the NRA, “even if there was evidence that Isabel dos Santos is guilty of corruption, it is not obvious that this can be invoked as a basis for refusal since she no longer owns the company”, and it is not enough to argue that “she contested the nationalization of the company before the Portuguese authorities ”.
The Norwegian public company also states that “the decision to nationalize/expropriate shareholder rights is not a ‘trial’ for corruption”, in accordance with Norwegian public procurement regulations.
“In its pre-qualification application, Efacec did not provide information on the corruption allegations against Isabel dos Santos. However, this does not provide a basis for rejecting Efacec ”, due to the lack of judgment on the matters, says the NRA. “It was not considered as sufficiently documented that a serious error was made by Isabel dos Santos / Efacec”, according to the NRA representative.
The NRA also rejected claims about the contract price, and KOFA has yet to comment on the case. In response to questions from Lusa about the case, Efacec confirmed “the intention to award Efacec a project aimed at building a biogas plant in Norway”.
“We will share more information after the contract is signed,” Efacec’s official source told Lusa about the project.