Friday, February 20, 2009

 

Bid-rigging is not OK ... it says here

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Before reading today's Canadian Press article about bid-rigging, please note:

... In October 2002, OmniTRAX hired Erik Bornman and Brian Kieran to lobby the provincial government on BC Rail. The B.C. Lobby Registry Web site shows that the cabinet ministers Bornman and Kieran registered to lobby were Gordon Campbell, Gary Collins, Judith Reid, Rick Thorpe, Richard Neufeld, and Kevin Falcon.

Prior to the government choosing CN, both OmniTRAX and Canadian Pacific complained that the BC Rail process was unfair to them. Several media reports said the government was determined to award the deal to CN. CN has donated about $150,000 to the B.C. Liberals since 1994.

CP wrote in a bitter private letter, dated November 21, 2003, and copied to the premier's office, that the government's handling of the BC Rail deal was "extremely prejudiced", that CN had been provided "enhanced access to shippers", and that CP was formally withdrawing from the bidding.

"By allowing CN access to BC Rail's customers at a time when CPR was prohibited by its confidentiality agreement from contacting such customers, the province has, whether intentionally or not, provided CN with an unfair competitive advantage," says the CP letter ...

Excerpt from POLICE RAIDS AND BC RAIL by Bill Tieleman - March 11, 2004.

___________________________________________________________


Charges laid in $67-million bid-rigging scheme


THE CANADIAN PRESS - Feb 17, 2009

OTTAWA - The federal Competition Bureau has charged 14 people and seven Ottawa-area companies in a bid-rigging scheme involving $67 million in federal government information-technology contracts.

The bureau said it has evidence that IT service companies co-ordinated bids to divvy up contracts and exclude competitors.

The alleged scam involved bidding competitions for 10 contracts for the Canada Border Services Agency, Public Works and Government Services Canada, and Transport Canada.

"Bid-rigging is a serious criminal offence that harms buyers of products and services, competing businesses, and ordinary Canadians who ultimately pay the bills," said Melanie Aitken, interim commissioner of competition.

"The bureau will not hesitate to take action against bid-riggers when it uncovers evidence that the law has been broken."

Bid-rigging is a criminal process in which bidders secretly agree not to compete or to submit bids that have been pre-arranged among themselves.

The goal is to get around the competitive bidding process and inflate prices. The bureau said recent studies suggest bid-rigging can drive up prices by about 20 per cent.

{Snip} ...

Penalties for bid-rigging include a fine at the discretion of the court and-or up to five years in prison.

Click here to read the complete news article.

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Comments:
This is the elephant in the room for the BC Liberal Government. Were members of the Executive Council, including the Premier, party to a sweetheart deal to transfer the assets of BCRail to CN?

This government is being hammered daily in the Legislature for their mistakes, their wasteful bad management and their overweening hubris...but, in the end, the BASI VIRK trial has the potential to make all of this look like small potatoes by comparison.

But only if a few men and women in the MSM step up to the plate and finally suggest that there are connections to the office of the Premier.

The public, with the upcoming election in the balance, shouldn't have to wait any longer.

These questions and the implications of this government's behavior have to be pulled to the front of the stage so that the people of British Columbia have a chance to form their own opinions on these matters.

I am not suggesting that the Premier's actions be pre-judged but they do need to come under public scrutiny.

Now.

The future of the province is at stake.
 
Here's a little scutiny.....

Mr. Bornmann's self-declared BC Liberal Gov't contacts while lobbying for OmniTrax can be seen here.

And


Mr. Kieran's self-declared BC Liberal Gov't contacts while lobbying for OmniTrax can be seen here.

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A shortlist of four companies is made: Canadian National Railway Co., the ultimate winner announced November 25, 2003; Canadian Pacific Railway; OmniTRAX, in partnership with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway; and RailAmerica.

*************************

OminTrax in partnership?????, now that connection has been mightily glossed over by almost everyone.

Ever hear of MacQuarie, the go-to guys who are part of the consortium to build the 10 lane replacement Port Mann Bridge and operate the tolls for the next 40 years? They have just posted a $1.3 billion loss.

Macquarie was involved with the BC Rail deal as well, so why is Kevin Falcon so much in praise of these guys?

Anyone remember this Post to here?

".....The information caused Trumpy "to believe that one or more of the advisers" to the bidders may have received confidential information, Falcon said.
The transportation minister said he has not spoken to the police and does not know the identities of the advisers, nor how they got the information.

Three bidders had been short-listed to buy the Roberts Bank line: Southern Railway; Macquarie and its partner OmniTRAX; and the Roberts Bank Partnership, which is a consortium that includes CN Rail, CP Rail and the Vancouver Port Authority.

# posted by BC Mary : November 10, 2006 2:29 PM"


Here's a comment from CTV.CA that should be perking eveyone's ears up:

"OmniTRAX said it was not a bidder in the spurline process, but would operate the spurline for Australian financier Macquarie if that bid was accepted."

***************

We all seem to know who the players were for the sale of BC Rail, big names like CP, CN and OmniTrax railway companies but its the backroom players, those who have so far been free from any mention in the press or on the blogs.

Macquarie lost out on "owning" the spur line because of the Raid on the Legislature in 2003, is the Port Mann Bridge's Super duper $3.3 billion contract, payback time for the partnership called "Connect BC Development Group"?

In a press release from the Ministry of Transportation dated Aug. 7, 2007 the Connect BC Development Group is called "a team based in BC, and includes the Macquarie Group and Transtoll Inc." well DUH!!!!! Maquarie owns Transtoll so why is the Minister pm page 3 of 12 making the distinction, as if Macquarie was is a different entity from Transtoll?

Just asking?
 
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Keep on asking, NVG ... and thanks for the super-sleuthing.

You've turned up enough info. keep me busy for a few hours ... questions, questions.

Wasn't Maquarie involved in the Athletes' Village, too?

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Macquarie had, emphasis is on "had", a subsidary by the name of Fortress, not the same Fortress that was supposedly bankrolling Millenium. In the economic crunch of 2008 Macquarie Fortress hit rock bottom and folded its tent on December 31st.
 
From down under, where else but from Macquarie's home country of Australia, the press is reporting that the $3.3 billion contract that the BC Liberals have awarded to a "BC Team" Consortium will be paid for by something different, far different from what Kevin Falcon and Premier Gordon Campbell have led the public to believe.

Its not a simple toll that is being put on the new Port Mann Bridge:

"Macquarie led a consortium called Connect BC Development Group that was selected in August 2008 to enter into negotiations with the British Columbia government for the construction of a 10-lane bridge and connecting highway. It is effectively a 37km toll road."

******

Notice the last sentence..... "a 37km toll road." The bridge is not 37km long, but the highway connected to the Port Mann Bridge is. East of, or West of, is the question that taxpayers (toll payers) should be asking of the BC Liberals.

Will motorist be forced to hop off of the highway as soon as they have crossed the Port Mann to then use local roads, thereby adding massive grid lock conditions to municipal roads which are already stretched to their limits?


Macquarie's partnership consortium doesn't care because they've had the BC Government over the barrel.....

"Roseman told an infrastructure seminar in Sydney this week, hosted by Minter Ellison, that when the Macquarie-led consortium was selected as preferred bidder on the toll road, underwritten debt and equity was locked in.

“By the time the government had evaluated the proposition and come back to us the debt underwriting had expired,” he says.

“The debt was underwritten pre-August and no bank was going to hold their pricing. Post August, they said the pricing is not X it's Y.

“We went back to the government and they ummed and ahhed. By the time they came back to us, half the banks had actually disappeared and it wasn't a question of pricing.
" SNIP
 
RE: the the bid-rigging of Federal Security Contracts:

Could those contrats have been awarded when Stockwell Day was the Minister in charge of Security? Could he have been the one who inked some of those deals?
 
Stockwell Day was a backseat sitter while in Opposition.

It was the Liberals who were still in power, with their Sponsorship scandal dragging them down into a political oblivion......


"The 2006 Canadian federal election (more formally, the 39th General Election) was held on January 23, 2006, to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 39th Parliament of Canada. The Conservative Party of Canada won a plurality of seats" Wikipedia






SNIP

"The agency said it began looking into the problem in 2005 after officials at Public Works expressed concerns about some contract bids.

During the investigation, bureau officers searched 10 locations, including head offices and homes, and seized more than 125,000 paper and electronic records.

Brainhunter Inc. (TSX:BH), one of the company's charged, its involvement was related to a joint venture bid submitted in October 2005 to Transport Canada

"The company has conducted its own internal investigations since it became aware of the allegations and is confident neither the company nor its employees are guilty of any wrongdoing," chairman and chief executive John McKimm said in a statement.

In addition to Brainhunter, the following companies have been charged: TPG Technology Consulting Ltd., Spearhead Management Canada Ltd., Tipacimowin Technology Inc., Donna Cona Inc., The Devon Group Ltd. and Nortak Software Ltd.

The following individuals are also charged: Donald Powell, Phil McDonald, Susan Laycock, Marina Durward, Thomas Townsend...." SNIP
 
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NVG,

Terrific work, thanks again!!


Anonymous 8:48,

They began looking into bid-rigging in 2005, this article says.

Stephen Harper's government was sworn in on Feb. 6, 2006.

So that would leave Stockwell Day in the clear, it seems. .
 
From a Tyee article. Sept. 20, 2004:

"And while Macquarie is one of the Sea to Sky bidders, it has also been on the watch dog side in the RAV project. In 2001, Macquarie was asked to write a report about the feasibility of going ahead with RAV as a P3. The verdict was favourable. Subsequently, Macquarie was retained by Partnerships BC to continue to advise it in regard to the commercial and financial aspects of RAV while at the same time, bidding on Sea to Sky."

Macquarie Essential Assets Partnership (MEAP) wins bid and becomes project manager of Sea-to-Sky highway project.

On March 4, 2005 Partnerships BC puts out this bulletin:

"S2S Transportation Group (S2S) has been selected as the preferred proponent offering the best value in safety, reliability and capacity improvements for the Sea-to-Sky Highway...

"Based in Vancouver, S2S Transportation Group is a comprehensive team comprised of leading international and B.C. companies with global expertise in complex highway projects. Leading the S2S team as project manager is the Macquarie Group, one of the world’s largest and most successful road developers. British Columbia-based team members include:• Peter Kiewit Sons Co., • JJM Construction, • Hatch Mott MacDonald (HMM), • ND Lea, McElhanney Engineering Services Ltd., • Capilano Highway Services"
 
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Lynx, NVG, Gazetteer:


Holy smoke!

That's heavy stuff ... what next ???


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"The Request for Qualifications (RFQ) evaluated the experience and technical ability of responding teams to build and operate a toll highway in an urban environment as well as finance large-scale transportation projects. Following thorough evaluation, three groups have been short-listed for the Request for Proposals (RFP) phase of the selection process."



These were those three contenders short listed to build the Port Mann Bridge:

Connect BC Development Group

Gateway Mobility Partners

Highway #1 Transportation Group


Question is, why has the Provincial government not gone to the secondary runner-up, or tertiary companies to ask them to build the Port Mann Bridge?

Question is, why has the Minister of Highways not stayed with the P3 projectory when those other two avenues were still open to him?

One Answer maybe that the BC Liberals learned from what happened, possibly (still before the courts), because of the public's perception of inappropriate behaviour when it comes to breach of trust charges being laid by the police.
 
There were, are, ??? three shortlisted bidders for the Port Mann Project, much like the BC Rail deal (CP, CN and OmniTrax) as well.

In the instance of what Mr. T calls a "Bridge, too far", Macquarie and its partners couldn't raise the funds so they've bailed and what does the government do, they fold their tent and walk off of the field with the ball under their arm so no other team gets to play.

There was a requirement of $1 million to enter the game win/lose,.... you'd think that the two that were eliminated would still want to be in on the game, but no, Kevin Falcon makes a decision (cabinet really) and says they have abandoned the P3 model of financing and are reverting back to the traditional one of where the costs of financing will be lower because of the province's Triple AAA rating with lenders.....

Problem is, there is an appearance of the BC Liberals doing a Bait and Switch tactic at the expense of unsuspecting bidders, and the public, in one gambit.... or is it gamble.

According to the Federal Competition Bureau a bait and switch selling (of an idea????)..... "Liability will be avoided where the advertiser (BC Government) can establish that the non-availability of the product was due to circumstances beyond its control, the quantity of the product obtained was reasonable, or the customer was offered a rain check when supplies were exhausted.

Retailers who contravene the law may be ordered by a court to stop the conduct, to publish a corrective notice, and/or to pay an administrative monetary penalty."


However, even though Connect BC Development Group didn't meet all of the criteria as set down by the BC Government to be the winner, the other two bidders were not given the same opportunity to participate on the same level "playing field" that was given to one competitor.

Connect BC Development Group is still the builder/operator/toll collector with the latter being handled through Macquarie's subsidiary TransToll. And Macquarie is an advisor to the government on how the Port Mann Bridge project will proceed.

Could we have gotten a better deal? We'll never know, especially in light of the pledge that they made to voters that they would be Open and Transparent!
 
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