Singapore SMEC hit by World Bank ban

Over allegations of misconduct in south Asian projects

The World Bank has imposed sanctions on subsidiaries of Australian engineering company SMEC after an investigation into corporate misconduct.

The World Bank announced in Washington overnight it had debarred SMEC International, based in Melbourne, and four subsidiaries in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka after an investigation into misconduct in south Asia.

Debarment means the companies are ineligible to receive World Bank-financed contracts.

SMEC was being investigated over alleged bribery scandals in Sri Lanka & Bangladesh
SMEC says it will fulfil its existing World Bank contracts. (Supplied: SMEC)
Australian companies embroiled in bribery scandals in Sri Lanka and Congo

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World Bank Announces Settlement Relating to Misconduct in World Bank-Financed Projects in the South Asia region

The World Bank today announced a Negotiated Resolution Agreement (NRA) that debars SMEC International Pty. Ltd., a subsidiary of SMEC Holdings Pty. Ltd., for 12 months, as well as four of its controlled subsidiaries based in India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, for periods varying from 6 to 30 months for misconduct in the South Asia region.

The NRA follows a World Bank investigation which revealed misrepresentations to meet bidding requirements under World Bank-financed projects in Sri Lanka and India.  The investigation also found evidence indicating inappropriate payments made in relation to World Bank-financed projects in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. 

Under the Terms of the NRA, SMEC International Pty. Ltd.’s parent company, SMEC Holdings Pty. Ltd., has also committed to make any necessary enhancements to its group-wide corporate integrity compliance program to ensure that it is consistent with the World Bank’s Integrity Compliance Guidelines.

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Another GLC, SMEC Owned by Subana Jurong Mired in Corruption Scandal

The World Bank has imposed fresh sanctions on SMEC, a company owned by Subana Jurong for improper buddings and kickback reported ABC News.

SMEC will no longer be allowed to do development work in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka for as long as two and a half years. SMEC subsidiaries are under investigation for misrepresentation in bids put in for aid work.

In September the World Bank made an announcement from Washington D. C. concerning the debarring of Melbourne-based SMEC International, along with four of its subsidiaries in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. The company had been under investigation for misconduct in this region. This debarment removes the companies’ eligibility to receive contracts funded by the World Bank, with sanctions ranging from six months to two and a half years.

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Sundance Resources, Snowy Mountain Engineering Co embroiled in bribery scandals in Sri Lanka and Congo

Two Australian companies are being investigated over alleged bribery scandals linked to the presidents of Sri Lanka and the Congo, after the firms sought to secure multi-million-dollar contracts in those countries.

A Fairfax Media and 7.30 investigation can reveal Perth's Sundance Resources is implicated in an alleged bribery plot involving some family members of Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

Engineering giant Snowy Mountain Engineering Company is being separately investigated over claims its staff sought approval to pay kickbacks to foreign officials, including a donation to the party of Sri Lanka's president Maithripala Sirisena when he was a cabinet minister.

related: Sundance Resources is facing bribery allegations related to the Mbalam‐Nabeba mine
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Australian company bought by Temasek-owned company, currently have sanctions imposed by World Bank due to bribery offences
Andy Goodwin, CEO and managing director of SMEC (left) and Wong Heang Fine, group CEO of Surbana Jurong

Last month, Temasek-linked Keppel Offshore & Marine was slapped with a US$422 million fine by US, Brazil and Singapore authorities for involving in millions of dollars bribes in Brazil. The bribery went on for more than a decade from 2001 to 2014, earning Keppel hundreds of millions of dollars as well as fat bonuses for its senior executives.

Other than Keppel O&M, news also surfaced 3 months ago (Sep 2017) that an Australian entity currently owned by Surbana Jurong was allegedly involved in another bribery case.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that the World Bank has imposed sanctions on SMEC International, based in Melbourne, and its subsidiaries in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka after an investigation into their corporate misconduct back in 2011 and 2007.

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Surbana Jurong argues that dismissal of 54 staff without warning nor performance reviews, is not retrenchment exercise

In a report by Straits Times on Thursday, it was revealed that an email was sent by Surbana Jurong group chief executive Wong Heang Fine on Tuesday to address the recent dismissals by the company.

Surbana Jurong Private Limited or Surbana Jurong is a newly merged entity that is a combination of Surbana International Consultants and Jurong International Holdings in 2015 and is a wholly government owned company.

Surbana International Consultants was formerly the Building and Development Division in Singapore's Housing and Development Board which was formed in 1960, which was then corporatised as HDBCorp in 2003 and acquired by Temasek Holdings in 2004.

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Temasek Holdings-owned Surbana Jurong terminates dozens but says it’s not retrenchment exercise

Dozens of Surbana staff lose their jobs.

“Temasek Holdings-owned infrastructure consultant Surbana Jurong has terminated the employment of a number of employees as part of a performance management review, The Straits Times has learnt. All of the affected workers are based in Singapore, where the firm employs about 3,000 workers. Surbana would not say how many workers have been laid off, but a spokesman said that less than 0.5 per cent of its global 13,000-strong workforce had been affected. That could mean up to 65 workers have lost their jobs.” – “Dozens Surbana staff lose their jobs” (Straits Times, Jan 14).

So, reading the above seems to indicate that all the terminated staff are in Singapore, the number is in the “dozens” up to as many as 65 workers.

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Surbana Jurong acquires Australia's SMEC for S$400m

In a move touted as transformational, Surbana Jurong Pte Ltd is acquiring Australian-based consultancy firm SMEC Holdings Ltd (SMEC) for S$400 million.

This immediately scales up the Temasek unit into the largest development consultancy group based in the Asia-Pacific region.

The combined entity will have an estimated annual revenue of about S$1.1 billion, more than double Surbana Jurong's annual consultancy fees of S$500 million.

related: Surbana Jurong lifts engineering expertise with Aussie buy

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Multi-million-dollar payday for SMEC investors after Surbana sale
Former SMEC executives including Ross Hitt, right, have made millions of dollars from the sale to Surbana Jurong

Former and current executives from the Snowy Mountains Engineering Company have become multimillionaires following the sale of the group to Singapore's Surbana Jurong, which comes amid an investigation by the Australian Federal Police into alleged foreign bribery.

SMEC, whose shares were privately held by employees and former executives before its sale to Surbana last month for $S400 million ($393 million), told investors last year it had been informed in April 2015 that the AFP had started an investigation into four institutionally funded projects dating back to 2000.

About 15 per cent of SMEC's fees are derived from projects in emerging markets for institutions such as the World Bank, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Asian Development Bank.

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Surbana Jurong

Surbana Jurong Private Limited (also referred to as Surbana Jurong) is a Singaporean government-owned consultancy company focusing on infrastructure and urban development. It was formed in June 2015 with the merger of Surbana International Consultants and Jurong International Holdings. As of July 2016, it is wholly owned by Temasek Holdings and had 13,000 employees. Surbana Jurong acquired SMEC Holdings and AETOS Holdings in August and October 2016 respectively. These acquisitions have raised its staff count to 13,000 employees. In November 2017, Surbana Jurong acquired Robert Bird Group, a global consulting engineering firm

In February 2015, JTC Corporation and Temasek Holdings announced plans to merge several of their subsidiaries. According to the agreement, JTC Corporation owned Jurong International Holdings and Temasek Holdings owned Surbana International Consultants were to be merged into a single entity with 49:51 partnership between JTC and Temasek. The merger was completed in June 2015 and the merged entity was named Surbana Jurong

In August 2016, Surbana Jurong announced the acquisition of Australia-based SMEC Holdings for S$400 million.

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We build homes, design cities, and improve infrastructure for sustainable industrial development and urban living. Our global team of architects, designers, planners, engineers and other specialists, provides one-stop consultancy across the full urban, industrial and infrastructure development value chain.

With over 50 years of track record in successful project delivery, the Surbana Jurong Group has grown to become one of the largest Asia-based urban, industrial and infrastructure consulting firms. Our global workforce of 13,500 employees across more than 120 offices are driven by progressive thinking and creative ideas.

We continue to grow from strength to strength with the addition of member companies – SMEC, Robert Bird Group, KTP, Sino-Sun and AETOS – to the Surbana Jurong Group. Together, we offer expanded capabilities and reach – providing comprehensive sustainable solutions and value add to projects everywhere around the world.

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