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SKM discloses improper payments

Australian consultant SKM has been put on probation by the World Bank after it admitted making “improper payments” on World Bank-funded schemes.

According to a statement from SKM late last month, the payments were made by one of its “operations centres servicing some international aid projects in South East Asia… prior to November 2011”.

The firm would not elaborate on the details of the payments but an SKM spokesman told NCE that the payments had been discovered by members of its acquisitions team who were undertaking “…some due diligence”.

“Having uncovered it there was only one path and that was to selfdisclose,” added the spokesman. Following a Negotiated Resolution Agreement (NRA) the World Bank gave the firm a two-and a half year “conditional non-debarment”.

This means that as long as the firm shows a “commitment to the implementation of more robust integrity compliance programmes”, then it can continue to bid for World Bankfinanced projects.

Referring to the NRA, World Bank Group vice president of integrity Leonard McCarthy said: “The outcome of this case introduces a new standard of compliance by a company that opted for self-policing in response to the discovery of misconduct in its own ranks.

“By promptly self-reporting, committing to corporate transparency and its enforcement of disciplinary action against those responsible, SKM has practically demonstrated how to confront wrongdoing and commit to doing business with integrity.” In an open letter to his 7,500 staff SKM chief executive Santo Rizzuto revealed that the firm had adopted British Standard BS10500 on anti-bribery management systems. He also asked staff to read the SKM code of conduct and urged anyone with information about irregular activities to fill in its online whistleblower form.

Rizzuto said: “Unfortunately, bribery and corruption are challenges that our industry faces in all parts of the world. “All of us must accept and live up to our obligation to combat such illegal activity. Following the outcome of our investigations, the changes we have made and our entry into the NRA with the World Bank, I am determined that SKM acts to set the benchmark for our industry on these important principles of conduct.”

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