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January 13, 2011

More dirty fish found in USAID


January 13, 2011

ISLAMABAD: More fishy deals are being uncovered by NAB in the USAID funded projects in tribal areas being implemented through American NGOs, some of which have already been found involved in massive alleged misappropriation and corruption.
Off and on Washington reprimand Islamabad on the issues of corruption and transparency but it is interesting to note that scrutiny into the USAID sponsored projects show that US NGOs equally corrupt. It also raises question over the strict monitoring mechanism of the USAID.
Sources in NAB confided to The News that after uncovering corruption in two projects by a leading US NGO- Academy for Educational Development (AED)- one more project involving alleged corruption handled by the same NGO under the USAID is being probed. Additionally, the USAID is said to have also sought NAB’s assistance to look into the projects being implemented by yet another western NGO- CHF- in South Fata.
Of late after The News broke the story of American NGOs corruption, the USAID top officials met the Chairman NAB formally sought Bureau’s assistance to do the scrutiny of its projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The NAB has almost completed its inquiries into two complaints against AED and Sheledia for alleged corruption, misappropriation and embezzlement in two different projects given by the USAID. One of the projects that is under the scrutiny of the NAB is FATA Livelihood Development Programme, which is part of the US’s grant aid of US $ 750 million committed a few years back for the uplift of the tribal areas.
This particular project- Fata Livelihood Development Programme- was meant for northern FATA including Bajour, Mohmand, Khyber Agency, their adjacent FRs and district Peshawar. The USAID had decided to implement the project through the American NGO AED and accordingly a cooperative agreement amounting US$ 149 million was awarded the AED. This project was meant to raise the income earning capacities of the

inhabitants of FATA but ended up in a scam. The other project, under the same US grant aid program for the uplift of FATA, is the construction of Bareng Road having a total length of 21 kilometers. The USAID gave the contract to Sheledia, a US NGO, for Rs 350 million. Later the USAID found something fishy in the project and approached the NAB, which has already identified an embezzlement of at least Rs 80 to Rs 100 million.
Following these disclosures, in December last the Washington Post carried a story revealing that the U.S. Agency for International Development AED from receiving new government contracts because of the ongoing investigation regarding questionable practices. USAID’s Office of Inspector General was said to be investigating the AED, which is one of USAID’s key contractors in Afghanistan, overseeing the government agency’s higher-education program in the war-torn country. In the past three years, it has received $109 million in contracts from USAID for work in Afghanistan.
“Initial findings by the inspector general’s office “reveal evidence of serious corporate misconduct, mismanagement, and a lack of internal controls, and raise serious concerns of corporate integrity,” the WP quoted a statement from USAID. It was also reported that the AED has 65 contract awards from USAID worth roughly $640 million.
The NAB sources said that after the two cases, as discussed above, another project of AED for the construction of 45 kilometers is now also found controversial. It is being probed. The NAB has also received complaints against CHF, which is implementing the USAID projects in South Fata. In addition to the US$ 750 million, the USAID would also be spending a major chunk of the Kerry Luggar aid of US$ 7.5 billion without active involvement of any agency of the government of Pakistan.

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