Zenith Carex petitions FG as Global Fund, others withheld over N67m contract fee


An indigenous logistics company, Zenith Carex, has written a petition to the Federal Government, requesting the government’s intervention to recover over N67 million contract funds allegedly withheld by a United States organisation, Chemonics International, and its associates over the past two years.

The others alleged to be involved in the contract were Global Fund, an international organisation financing AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria prevention, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The company argued that the fund was outstanding of a contract executed for Chemonics, who were said to have been contracted Global Fund and USAID to execute and managed an integrated supply chain within Nigeria between 2017 and 2019.

Zenith added that after the completion of the contract, which indicated Chemonics must in every 30 days pay for logistics carried out by their contractor, the United States organisation had allegedly refused to pay even after several requests were made.

Worried by the alleged refusal, the logistics company in a letter wrote to the government through Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and was titled: ‘Imminent International Intimidation And Bilateral Blackmail Of A Business Relationship/Partnership By Chemonics International INC SAII And Its Associates: An urgent request/applicattion for your intervention, advice/guidance and amongst others.

In the letter signed by Chief Executive Office (CEO) of the company, Adelana Olamilekan, and obtained by Vanguard, the company stressed that the withheld balance of their contract fee was affecting their operation.

The company stated categorically that during the period, all transactions were documented and consignments were delivered at the appropriate locations, and all paper works signed between both parties even when the international organisation was not fulfilling its own side of the bargain.

It reads: “To intervene, investigate and interrogate the process with a view to unraveling the course of action after three years of successful hitch-free delivery without any form of query from their Nigeria office since inception of the contract.

“To guide and assist our company to recover the sum of over N67 million which was the sum of money owed us by Chemonics International Inc. Sall & Associates, which they seek to avoid paying by using antics. Falsehood and deception to evade payment.

“To also direct Chemonic and Sail to issue a letter of apology to us for embarrassment and inconveniences suffered as a result of their actions”, the company added.

Earlier, it was learnt that trouble started after Global Fund Nigeria Country team, in April 2019, received a request for additional funds from Chemonics International to complete their task, citing some exigencies during the execution of the project.

The trouble was said to have become obvious when Zenith Carex demanded the balance of the projects it executed as stipulated in the contract agreement signed earlier in 2017, but rather than pay, Global fund wrote a petition to the OIG and alleged that the Nigeria logistic company allegedly defrauded its supported programs of US$3 million.

Global Fund in the petition added that Zenith systematically inflated invoices for the distribution of health commodities to warehouses and health facilities throughout Nigeria.

Rather than pay, the Global Fund went ahead to engage Local Fund Agent (LFA) to examine potential causes of the overspend and it was alleged that there were numerous unsupported sub-contractor expenditures made.

For Global Fund not to further pay, the Chemonics’ Office of Business Conduct (OBC) in synergy with the OIG embarked on another joint field mission to Abuja in February 2020 which Zenith described as not necessary considering the documents presented.

In the investigation report, Global Fund alleged that the Nigerian logistic company inflated distribution invoices up to ten-fold and held tenaciously to its pre-investigation believe, a claim Zenith argued was a clear misrepresentation of services executed.

According to Global Fund, Chemonics’ controls were ineffective in identifying the fraudulent invoices. Staff were negligent in reviewing the invoices and supporting documentation as well as approved inflated invoices that were not in line with the contracts, for over two years.

They also alleged that Chemonics’ inadequate financial monitoring in the local office and Headquarters led to retrospective identification of cost overruns, making it more difficult for Chemonics and the Global Fund Secretariat to identify the fraud thereby asking for a refund of US$712,588, or 93 percent of the total charges, by invoicing for truck tonnage supplied by Zenith.

The Nigerian company, reacting to the outcome claimed that it does not have any business relationship with Global Fund since they are not their direct contact.

“Chemonics were the company that contracted us and they are the one owing us. We do not know how that should be an issue with Global Funds. OIG/GF report was a misrepresentation of facts filled with distorted information and it is biased”.

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