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Reprieve for corrupt firm

Staff Reporter

MASERU — The World Bank’s anti-fraud unit has removed Lahmeyer International, a German engineering firm convicted of dolling out bribes in Lesotho in the 1990s, from its blacklist two years earlier than scheduled.
Lahmeyer International was heavily fined by the Lesotho High Court in 2003 after it was found guilty of paying bribes to Masupha Sole, the former chief executive of the Lesotho Highlands development Authority (LHDA).
Sole, who was convicted of 11 counts of bribery and two of fraud in 2002, was sentenced to an effective 15 years in jail but was released in May this year after spending only nine years behind bars.
He has since been appointed chief technical adviser to the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission which supervises the LHDA.
The LHDA runs the Katse and Mohale Dams.
It was during the construction of the two dams in the late 1980s and 1990s that Lahmeyer paid bribes to Sole.
In 2006, the World Bank suspended Lahmeyer from bidding on bank contracts for a period of seven years, after investigators found the company paid bribes to Sole.
The World Bank partly financed the construction of Katse and Mohale Dams.
The World Bank said it opted to reinstate Lahmeyer early because it “satisfactorily adopted and implemented to date its compliance management system”. “Going forward the establishment — or improvement — and implementation of an integrity compliance programme satisfactory to the Bank Group will be a principal condition to ending a conditional debarment,” said Leonard McCarthy, the vice president of the bank’s anti-fraud unit, in a statement.

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