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Alcatel-Lucent ‘co-operating with Nigeria’ in anti-corruption probe of rural telephony projects

Alcatel-Lucent ‘co-operating with Nigeria’ in anti-corruption probe of rural telephony projects
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French technology multinational Alcatel Lucent has said that it is co-operating with anti-corruption authorities in Nigeria on the probe of Alcatel-Lucent Nigeria Ltd, its local subsidiary, over alleged shady deals involving rural telephony projects in the country.

[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”Alcatel-Lucent”]“Governmental investigations and legal proceedings are subject to uncertainties and the outcomes thereof are difficult to predict. Consequently, Alcatel-Lucent is unable to estimate the ultimate aggregate amount of monetary liability or financial impact with respect to these matters. Because of the uncertainties of government investigations and legal proceedings, one or more of these matters could ultimately result in material monetary payments by Alcatel-Lucent beyond those to be made by reason of the various settlement agreements.” [/blockquote]
According to non-confidential Alcatel Lucent company information reviewed by Technology Times, authorities in Nigeria and France have questioned officials of the French telecoms equipment supplier in anti-corruption investigations into the projects originally planned to extend telephony services to rural areas.

Nigerian authorities have in recent times cited that the rural telephony projects estimated to have gulped over $200 million have come under radar of anti-corruption agencies and lawmakers in the country because they were not delivered.

However Alcatel Lucent said in in public fillings reviewed by Technology Times that it has come under investigations by authorities in Nigeria and France “into certain conduct by Alcatel-Lucent subsidiaries” in Nigeria alongside Costa Rica and French Polynesia.

Alcatel-Lucent explains that it got involved in the Nigerian rural telephony project through it Chinese partner, Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell, which secured the deal in 2005.

“With respect to Nigeria, French authorities requested that Alcatel-Lucent produce further documents related to payments made by its subsidiaries to certain consultants in Nigeria. Alcatel-Lucent responded to the request and is continuing to cooperate with the investigating authorities”, the company said.

According to the French company, “On February 21, 2013, we were advised that the Nigerian anticorruption authorities had commenced an investigation regarding the alleged mismanagement of the National Rural Telephony Project and the involvement of Alcatel-Lucent Nigeria Ltd (“ALU Nigeria”) and other vendors in such project.”

The company said that its Chinese joint venture, Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell (“ASB”), entered into a contract with the Nigerian government for Phase I of this project on June 5, 2002.

“By an amendment dated April 4, 2003, the contract was assigned to a consortium including ASB and a state-owned Chinese engineering company named China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation (“CMEC”)”, the equipment supplier said.

“ALU Nigeria was not a party to the consortium, but acted as a subcontractor for the project. Phase I of this project was accepted by the Nigerian government. On December 27, 2006, ASB and CMEC entered into a contract with the Nigerian government for Phase II of this project, and our portion of the contract was assigned to CMEC on February 1, 2007”, the company added.

Alcatel-Lucent further explained that, “Phase II of the project was never performed due to a lack of financing. We still do not have any more detail as to the nature of the alleged mismanagement. We are cooperating with this investigation and conducted an internal review into this matter.”

Alcatel-Lucent said that it is also under probe in Costa Rica where “French authorities were investigating CIT’s payments to consultants in the Costa Rica matter described above; the criminal proceeding against Alcatel-Lucent France for bribery of public officials closed on December 31, 2013, but it is still on-going with regard to the Alcatel-Lucent former employees.”

The French company said that it “is unable to predict the outcome of these investigations and their potential effect on Alcatel-Lucent’s business.”

According to the company, “Governmental investigations and legal proceedings are subject to uncertainties and the outcomes thereof are difficult to predict. Consequently, Alcatel-Lucent is unable to estimate the ultimate aggregate amount of monetary liability or financial impact with respect to these matters. Because of the uncertainties of government investigations and legal proceedings, one or more of these matters could ultimately result in material monetary payments by Alcatel-Lucent beyond those to be made by reason of the various settlement agreements.”

Alcatel-Lucent says its history in Nigeria spans 30 years of delivering service equipment to major telecoms companies in the country that include public sector organisations like Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Federal Ministry of Communication Technology and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), among others.

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Kolade Akinola Technology Journalist at Technology Times Mobile: + 234 (0) 807 401 6027

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