Corruption in Burkina Faso: Finally a case proceeds…. but in the United States!

Public procurement was always the place where everyone supposed the Compaoré clan was enriching itself. Now there is finally a case that might open the door to some jail time and real punishment. As far as I am aware, none of the public procurement scandals in Burkina Faso have ever led to prosecutions. A parliamentary report back in 2012 was kind of like amateur hour (to me) in that it did not follow through on really obvious questions or make much effort to really put some light (by making publicly available) data on bids and decision-making regarding determination of bids.

But now Malamine Ouédraogo, who “headed” one of Alizeta Ouédraogo’s businesses (and according to one report is her son… Alizeta’s daughter is married to Francois Compaoré, ex-President Blaise Compaoré’s younger brother), has been indicted by a grand jury and Preet Bharara, prosecutor in New York, for wire fraud. Here is the USAID summary of the case:

The alleged fraud affected a Burkinabe Ministry of Health program, supported by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (Global Fund), which receives funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other donors. In response to a bid request from the Ministry of Health for the distribution of more than six million insecticide-treated mosquito nets, which can help reduce the incidence of mosquito-borne disease, Ouedraogo submitted an offer on behalf two collaborating firms with which he was associated. Ouedraogo subsequently received more than $12 million to provide mosquito nets in four regions in Burkina Faso.

Rather than acquire properly-treated mosquito nets through a supplier approved by the World Health Organization, as required in his Ministry of Health contracts, Ouedraogo allegedly purchased fraudulent nets, containing little or no insecticide, from a non-approved supplier. He labeled and packaged the fraudulent nets to resemble those produced by the approved supplier, according to the indictment. Knowing the nets were fraudulent and not approved, Ouedraogo proceeded to distribute the nets to government health facilities, the U.S. Attorney stated. Mosquito nets without insecticide are less effective and pose a higher risk of exposure to mosquitos, and an increased health risk for people using them.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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