Magazine article New African
Government Cracks Down on Western Corruption: Lesotho Made History Recently by Trying and Convicting a Leading Canadian Company for Obtaining Lucrative Construction Contracts in Lesotho through "Bribery". (around Africa: Lesotho)
The Ontario-based Acres International operates in 115 countries, but it now faces the possibility of being barred from bidding for all construction contracts in the developing world and future World Bank-financed schemes after being convicted by the Lesotho high court for corruption involving $431,000.
It was fined $260,000 for bribing a senior Lesotho government official to win contracts in the $8 billion Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), a joint development by Lesotho and South Africa.
Acres is the first of 14 Western companies facing corruption charges in Lesotho, the first such trial of a Western multinational company by an African country.
The legal action against Acres followed the conviction in June this year of Masupha Ephraim Sole, the former chief executive of LHWP, on 13 counts of corruption. He was sentenced to 18 years in jail after being found guilty of receiving $3m in bribes from consultants and contractors from America, Canada, Britain, Germany and France who all jockeyed for bits of Africa's biggest construction project, conceived under South Africa's former apartheid rulers to bring water from Lesotho via a complex web of dams and tunnels to the South African drought-prone province of Gauteng, which is home to Johannesburg and Pretoria's industrial heartland. The former South African president, Nelson Mandela, and King Letsie III of Lesotho opened the first phase of the project in January 1998, which was largely financed by South African banks, although the World Bank contributed $150m. …