Aid Experts Steal £27m UN Contract Meant For Healthcare In Africa To Buy Luxury Properties In London


Two international aid experts from the Netherlands have been busted for stealing a £27m United Nations (UN) Contract meant to boost healthcare delivery in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in Africa.

The Independent reported that the pair, Art Scheffer and Guido Bakker who were consultants with the UN, used their positions to rig the tendering process for a contract to supply life-saving drugs in the DRC to ensure victory for a Danish pharmaceutical company and then received millions of pounds in kickbacks to buy homes in Highgate and Maida Vale, all in London Upmarket.

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It is estimated that the two men could have earned up to £3.2m from their cunning and greedy operation. Investigators said the two employed a crooked British accountant to set up a company to channel the money that was eventually used to buy the luxury properties.

According to the account of the story, Scheffer and Bakker traveled to the Danish capital of Copenhagen in 2004 to meet representatives from the pharmaceutical company, Missionpharma, before it bid for the contract run by the UN Development Programme. It is said that in return for securing the contract, the two men negotiated a cut of which the company agreed.

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They then used their influence and experience working on UN contracts to ensure that Missionpharma won the bid, becoming the only competitor for the contract. The two had passed on key information from a UN insider in DRC to ensure the firm secured the contract.

Knowing the magnitude of the crime they have committed, the men tried to hide what they had done through a complex set of financial manipulations.  They authorized Missionpharma to pay their kickbacks monies to a company based in the US state of Delaware, with a bank account in Belgium. They then moved the monies to a UK company set up by British accountant, Patrick Orr and then on to a Jersey company owned by them. They spent the first tranche of the cash they secured on two flats and a house, police confirmed.

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The London police said it has spent eight years investigating the case. Scheffer was convicted of money laundering and corruption by the Southwark Crown Court on July 31, 2015. Bakker had pleaded guilty to his role in the deal in 2012 and Orr was convicted of money laundering in 2014. Orr was given a suspended jail term.

The two are due to be sentenced later, after they help investigators to recover the stolen monies. The Danish Public Prosecutor fined Missionpharma after it admitted paying kickbacks to the two Dutch men.

Prime Minister, David Cameron had declared in a speech in Singapore that the London property market was not a place for foreigners, “to stash your dodgy cash.”

Detective Sergeant Paul Farley, who led the investigation for the City of London Police, said the two men were respected professionals whose heads were turned by greed.

“They chose to cash-in on their positions of authority and in doing so massively compromised the awarding of a contract designed to deliver millions of pounds of medical aid to people in Africa,” he said.

The case is said to be one of the first to be investigated by the City of London police’s anti-corruption unit after it was set up in 2007, following criticism of Britain’s performance in tackling bribery abroad.

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