Abuja, Aug 10, 2011 (Vanguard/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- The controversy over the 2004 sale of the Aluminum Smelting Company of Nigeria, ALSCON, Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State, resonated yesterday as the original breferred bidder in the privatisation process, BFI Group of America insisted that Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE, fraudulently sold the company to RUSAL against its own rules.
In a document circulated among media houses in Abuja, BFIGroup headed by a Nigerian-American, Dr. Reuben Jaja, alleged that the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo had predetermined to sell ALSCON to RUSAL and that it only used the American firm to create a semblance of a genuine privatisation process.
The California-based organisation said: "RUSAL failed to provide a required $1 million bid bond complying with government rules for participating in the ALSCON bid process, yet RUSAL was still allowed to bid.
"BFIGroup fully complied with the government's strict bid bond requirements as a contractual precondition for bidding and on national television officially requested a certificate of RUSAL's compliance. The government denied BFIGroup's repeated requests in this regard. No complying RUSAL bid bond was produced because none exists.
"The government in public announcements steadfastly and overwhelmingly favoured RUSAL despite its noncompliance with bid rules and inferior conditional bid terms, while BFIGroup bid unconditionally in accordance with the bidding rules of the Federal Government of Nigeria."
However, the BPE, in a reaction, said BFIGroup was denied ALSCON because it failed to meet the deadline for the payment of the initial 10 per cent bid price within the 15 working-day stipulation.
The BPE said the American group was duly notified of the decision of the NCP approving it as preferred bidder and requesting it to pay the 10 per cent of the bid price within 15 working days.
It said: "Negotiations were to commence immediately but at the instance of the representative of the Corporation at Abuja, Dr Mfon Amana, this was deferred till Monday, June 21, 2004."
The privatization agency said "on 28 June, 2004, Mr Thomas M Crehan, the General Counsel to the Corporation wrote from the US to seek for clarification on the effective date of the 15 working days. He thought that the period started to run from 21 or 22 June, 2004 when negotiations commenced.
"On 30 June, 2004, BPE promptly replied quoting the relevant portions of the letter dated June 17, 2004 where it was unequivocally stated that the 15 working days started to run from the date of the receipt of the letter, that is, June 17, 2004 when the letter was delivered to the Corporation", it said in a document obtained by Vanguard.