MESOP : ERDOGAN’S FIELDS OF CORRUPTION – US gov’t suspends 14 aid programs in Turkey upon corrupt practices in aid to Syria

Emine Kart – ANKARA – Hurriyet – 11 May 2016 – The U.S. government has suspended millions of dollars in funding to more than a dozen organizations providing aid for Syria from Turkey, after discovering they were systematically overpaying Turkish companies for basic goods with the collusion of some staff members, a U.S. official said on May 10.

Upon a complex investigation into cross-border aid programs providing humanitarian relief in Syria and running from both Turkey and Jordan by multiple nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with funds from USAID and other international donors, the Washington-based U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has identified corrupt practices involving a number of these programs operating from Turkey, the OIG announced on May 6.

A U.S. government official, speaking with the Hürriyet Daily News on May 10, confirmed that the investigation had led to the suspension of 14 entities and individuals involved in aid programs from Turkey.

“It is an independent investigation being conducted by an independent inspector general,” said the U.S. official, who requested anonymity.

“As it is an ongoing investigation, we cannot provide any information on the name of any specific organization or individual involved,” the U.S. official added.

The investigation to date has identified a network of commercial vendors, NGO employees, and others who have colluded to engage in bid-rigging and multiple bribery and kickback schemes related to contracts to deliver humanitarian aid in Syria, USAID OIG said in a May 6 statement.

“Some early concerns about these practices surfaced through one USAID implementer, which identified and self-reported procurement irregularities affecting its programs,” it said.

“To date, OIG’s investigation has established grounds resulting in the suspension of 14 entities and individuals involved with aid programs from Turkey. As a result of the suspensions, these parties are no longer able to receive U.S. government awards. A portion of USAID-funded cross-border programs in Syria were suspended as a result of this investigation, and several NGOs delivering aid to Syria have terminated staff members’ employment based on demonstrated misconduct,” the statement added.

Citing humanitarian sources, Agence France-Presse reported from Washington on May 10 that among those affected are the International Medical Corps (IMC), the Irish charity Goal, and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), headed by former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.