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False documents in contracts that cost Cuenca hundreds of thousands of dollars

Published on May 11, 2021

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The Comptroller’s Office found irregularities in at least three hiring packages since 2016

The maintenance done to the ETAPA vehicle fleet from 2016 to 2019, the Zero Hunger summit organized by the Prefecture of Azuay in 2018 and the disinfection of the streets with ammonia as prevention of the pandemic by the Municipality in 2020, they are totally different processes, but they have something in common: false documents.

The first package of contracts corresponds to the maintenance of the vehicle fleet of the municipal company ETAPA, which since 2016 has been done through small purchases of very small amounts.

The report DPA-0024-2021 of the State Comptroller General, approved a few weeks ago, indicates that between January 2016 and August 2019 there were 33 processes that favored the same company for $50,000.

The company won the contracts for having the best of the proformas, but when the Comptroller’s Office contacted the suppliers that supposedly lost the contest, including Servicar, STAP or Automecánica, they all agreed that none had submitted a proforma to ETAPA.

Another 31 processes went to another company for about $ 29,000. In this case, the supposed losers were Tecnisur, Automecánica, Servicar and an additional workshop but, again, none of them had ever issued a proforma for ETAPA.

Finally, a supplier was awarded 3 contracts for a total of $8,951 with processes that include a proforma of the Mirasol company that turned out to be false and a third proforma that corresponded to a company of the winner’s wife.

The records of the Public Procurement System (SERCOP) show that this last provider was sanctioned in 2018 for presenting unreliable information in a process for the maintenance of the Police vehicle fleet in Azuay and was criticized for processes in the EMOV.

False documents and shortage of quaternary ammonium

In an audit carried out by the Comptroller’s Office of the current Municipal administration, it was determined that of the 5 proformas presented for the purchase of quaternary ammonium, a liquid with which the streets were disinfected at the beginning of the pandemic, one had a non-existent RUC.

Although in this process the awarded supplier was another, this also incurred a fault because it presented an operating permit from the Sanitary Regulation and Control Agency (ARCSA) that turned out to be false.

The contract was made for $82,500, but the contractor failed to comply with the required amount of ammonia, so a second process was carried out in which the winner presented a report from a laboratory that did not have permission from the ARCSA; the new contract was for $49,850.

Prefecture spent the most

The most expensive process in which allegedly false documents are registered is the Zero Hunger Summit, organized by the Prefecture of Azuay in April 2018.

The Prefecture signed 2 contracts for communication at the Summit. The first for $949,471 and the second for $299,996. To define the winner, 3 proformas were received, one of them from LOBO advertising consultants, which was denounced as false.

The LOBO representative informed the State Comptroller General that their logos had been used fraudulently and the signature of responsibility belonged to someone who has never worked for their company.

The second supplier withdrew from the process and the third contractor was automatically the winner. Comptroller notes that to comply with the contract, 74% of the services offered were subcontracted to a company domiciled in Florida, United States.

The watchdog adds that the money to pay for the contracts, which together exceed one million dollars, came from funds originally allocated for the insurance of children and the purchase of nutritional supplements for the vulnerable population. The transfer of funds was made without the knowledge of the Provincial Chamber.

The inconsistencies in all these processes are being analyzed by the Comptroller’s Office and even by the State Attorney General’s Office.

Disclaimers by ETAPA

In the ETAPA processes, the officials who approved the contracts indicated that the proformas came through the mechanics and drivers of the company, and they in turn assure that they received them from the suppliers.

The administrative assistant manager of ETAPA, Joseph Molina, points out that since there is an investigation involved, they cannot issue sanctions until the guilt or innocence of the officials is proven. To prevent this type of event from being repeated, a contracting manual has been prepared that strengthens the purchasing system of the municipal company.

Regarding the ammonium contracts by the Municipality and the Zero Hunger Summit of the Prefecture, the officials state that they relied on the “good faith” of the suppliers. The information on their responsibility is analyzed by the control entities.

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