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Man sentenced for £1.7 million corruption involving the World Bank

Today (22 September 2017) a man has been sentenced to six years imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court after an investigation led by the City of London Police’s Overseas Anti Corruption Unit (OACU) found that he had entered into corrupt agreements with 12 medical supply companies that had submitted tenders for projects mostly financed by the World Bank.

Wasim Tappuni, 64, of Coombe Neville in Kingston upon Thames, was sentenced to six years imprisonment following a six week trial. A 74 year old man who also stood trial was found not guilty of money laundering and false accounting.

Tappuni, who was an independent medical procurement consultant, was employed by the World Bank between August 2007 and October 2011. He acted as an independent advisor on their medical procurement projects. Over the course of four years, Tappuni received payments from companies based in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Austria, and Kazakhstan, of approximately £1.7 million.

Following an anonymous tip in 2011, the World Bank began an internal investigation into a Dutch medical supply company and made a referral to the Dutch authorities. The Dutch investigation identified Tappuni as the 'insider' at the World Bank and led to a criminal investigation being carried out on the company in the Netherlands.

It was suspected that Tappuni provided these companies with confidential information held by the World Bank which was not in the public domain, including tender documents and competitors' bids, prior to the information becoming public. This information allowed these companies an unfair advantage in the tendering process. He also offered to amend the criteria to suit particular suppliers and unfairly reject competitors, allowing them to unfairly win the contract.

Tappuni would then benefit from the corrupt arrangement and receive a pre-arranged percentage of the contract value, should the company, with whom he had the corrupt arrangement, be successful. 

In September 2011 the Dutch authorities made OACU aware of their investigation which resulted in a joint operation team being set up by Eurojust on 21 October 2011 to further investigate Tappuni and the Dutch medical supply company.

On 25 October 2011 coordinated searches took place in the Netherlands and at Tappuni’s home address in Kingston where a large amount of documentation and material from his computer were recovered. Tappuni was arrested and interviewed on the same day. 

As a result of this search and extensive international enquiries, it was discovered that Tappuni had received approximately £1.7 million in corrupt payments from 12 medical companies relating to 44 corrupted contracts totalling £42 million in value. For all but two of these contracts Tappuni was engaged by the World Bank as an independent advisor. For the remaining two, he was similarly engaged by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Most of these corrupt monies had been paid into accounts, held in Switzerland that he controlled.

Acting Detective Superintendent Peter Ratcliffe, Head of the City of London Police’s Overseas Anti Corruption Unit (OACU), said:

“This corrupt manipulation of the tendering process meant that the reputation of the World Bank would be tarnished and tax payers money wasted, as the medical supply companies that won the contracts did so having been unfairly assisted in the process. This case and subsequent sentencing highlights the severity of this crime and demonstrates that such acts will not go unpunished.

“The Overseas Anti Corruption Unit and the World Bank have worked together on this case and by sharing information, we have been able to successfully uncover Tappuni’s crimes and expose the sheer extent of his corruption. The investigation led to not only the identification of a large number of corrupt relationships, but also the 12 medical suppliers being investigated by and in most cases barred from bidding on World Bank contracts.

“This case should serve as a warning to those who engage in such crimes that justice will be served.”

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