The World Bank has blacklisted the Bangladeshi IT firm, Tiger IT, due to finding traces of corruption in the smartcard printing plans by the Election Commission. This is not the first time, however. World Bank investigated this issue once back in 2015. They found no traces, until now.
World Bank’s allegation
As per indictment of the World Bank, Tiger IT and its chairman took corruption shelter. They did it through various tenders that abide by the loan-based policies and grants of the World Bank. They also made sure that no other organization can take part in these tenders.
Prior to this, the World Bank blacklisted Oberthur Technologies last year in November. At a certain time, Oberthur was the international companion of Tiger IT.
The IDEA project
Back in 2011, November 24, Election Commission launched an initiative to hand out smart cards called Identification System for Enhancing Access to Services (IDEA). The EC took a loan of 1 thousand and 4 hundred crore or 14 billion takas for the project.
At the time, accusations were floated that instead of giving the task of making the smart cards to capable institutes who applied, they gave it to Oberthur Technologies. There were claims that Obertur made sure that no one else could apply for this and they proceeded without competition. Before getting the contract from EC, Oberthur was buried knee-deep in debt. After the contract, they were relieved of it.
Oberthur signed the contract on 14th January in 2015. As per the contract, they were supposed to make and personalize smart cards for 90 million voters. Then they were to send the cards to Upazilas and Thanas accordingly. The contract was supposed to end back in 2016, yet Oberthur kept extending the time. Despite that fact Oberthur couldn’t meet the requirements. EC cancelled the contract in 2018.
The investigation and following drama
The World Bank sent a 2-man team to Dhaka, in 2015, to investigate. They received complaints regarding the tenders from other companies. But they couldn’t find any sign of corruption. Allegedly, Tiger IT tried to sabotage the investigation through different modules.
Now, due to the change in ownership of Oberthur, they could not supply sufficient empty cards to Tiger IT. As a result, there was a clash between Tiger IT and Oberthur. Courts in Dhaka are settling the case regarding the clash of two companies.
Because of this accusation, Tiger IT will remain in the blacklist for nine and a half years. While Tiger IT’s CEO is blacklisted for six and a half.