“Mafia behind the contract diverted millions of American dollars out of the countries. As a result of their crookedness, the company tried to re-establish business contacts in Africa using another name but was found out and kicked out. They are now using FRABEMAR UK Ltd to disguise the notoriety of FRABEMAR SRL’’
“The company does not have expertise in international cargo tracking note; it only deals in pre-shipment inspection. They don’t have any life portal, materials, etc, to perform this service. In fact, they have not done it anywhere in the world,’’ a maritime expert told Persecondnews.com’
More scandalous facts have emerged about the status and activities of FRABEMAR in Africa, the company that Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Ameachi, guided by the immediate past Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello, had singlehandedly contracted for multi-billion-dollar cargo tracking“due diligence’’ on companies.
FRABEMAR, according to documents sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was kicked out of Congo, Mali, and some other African countries for fraud against the states, corrupting ministers, and government officials.
The Office of Inspector-General of Police had on August 31, 2012 indicted FRABEMAR and the state company, OGEFREM of corruption and embezzlement.
Prof. Boniface Musambi Kabisa, Deputy IG in charge of suppression of corruption and misappropriation of public funds, had written to the Attorney General, Public Prosecutor at the Supreme Court of Justice reporting criminal offences relating to the contract signed and perpetrated between OGEFREM and FRABEMAR, the Italian firm responsible for producing on behalf of OGEFREM, Electronic Import Information Sheets (FERI).
However, Congolese officials and OGEFREM house specialists had deplored what they called the “mafia nature’’ of the contract with the sole aim of diverting millions of American dollars to the detriment of OGEFREM with the complicity of its own leaders. Kabisa also said serious signs of corruption are also manifested by non-compliance with the public procurement rules.
“All these frauds are listed in the message from the PCA/OGEFREM which dated May 4, 2012 deplores the irregular nature and serious anomalies.’’
Calling for a probe of OGEFREM and FRABEMAR, he wrote: “We ask the Attorney General of the Republic in his capacity as Public Ministry Prosecutor to the Supreme Court of Justice to terminate this contract which gives the impression of having been negotiated by the mercenaries.
“To prosecute all members of the Board of Directors of OGEFREM from the Head for Embezzlement of Public Money and Corruption.’’
It was the first trial of Franco and Massimo Bernardini, and their company, the maritime brokerage agency, FRABEMAR in Genoa for international corruption.
“They paid bribes in Africa disguised with charity,’’ according to two well-known city brokers at the top of FRABEMAR.
EIL PRIM0 during its trial in Genoa for international corruption and two rather well-known entrepreneurs, Franco and Massimo Bernardini, and their company, the maritime brokerage agency, “Frabemar specializing in business in Africa, were indicted the day before yesterday by the judge of the preliminary hearing Franca Borzone and the trial will begin in mid-December.
The Bernardines are accused of having paid bribes in Congo, where instead they presented themselves as entrepreneurs-beneficiaries, to obtain an important public assignment from debt collectors. The first bribe, according to the deputy prosecutor Francesco Pinto who asked and obtained the judgment, was paid to Emile Ngoy Kasongo, former Congolese minister, and then at the summit of OGEFREM.
Office de gestion du fret multimodal, as the sort of customs agency with immense powers in the field of import-export, Frabemar obtained between 2009 and 2013 the overpaid task to manage it, effectively becoming the private collector on behalf of the African state in exchange for a suspected bribe of 1,822,246.42 Euros.
The money, it was revealed, ended up in an account of the Intesa branch via Dante in Genoa. Passing through the “Cabinet Munkindji & Associates” law firm of Kinshasa: on the consultant’s card paid by the Bernardines, for the mediator investigators of the splints.
The prosecution claims that another 111,643 Euros have been credited instead to Kasongo again via the professionals of Kinshasa, on a deposit opened by the African politician in the Julius Baer bank of the Principality of Monaco.
There is then an archipelago of mini-bribes that would have served to soften other figures: in one occasion 5,000 euro cash delivered to the general manager Ogefrem Anatole Kikwa Mukambo while in another, they promised the minister of Finance, to that of Transport and to the president of Cnut (Shippers’ Council) of Niger, a percentage of 4% each on the receipts due to Frabemar for the issue of electronic certificates “; in a case they have instead tried to bring together “Benin politicians’’.
All these, finally insists the Prosecutor’s Office, has nothing to do with the lobbying work put in often in place by companies State, being private initiatives in all respects. Franco Bernardini had rejected the objections in the course of an interrogation: It is true that money was paid into an account opened by Kasongo; yes, however, it dealt with payments for professional services.
Admittedly, the entrepreneur had remarked that it was necessary — Penetrate the African culture — “to understand certain dynamics. And you have to know – he had added – that some figures active in certain countries, they are similar to footballers, they prefer to be paid in foreign European currency, a version that so far has not convinced the magistrates.
After FRABEMAR SRL had been tried in court of law and kicked out of Congo and other countries, the company is now trying to get agents in other countries including Nigeria, to serially under remit the revenue accruable to those governments, and indulge in tax evasion, Persecondnews gathered.
Outlandishly, the dishonest and fraudulent transactions of FRABEMAR and its expulsion from those countries made the headlines in newspapers of Mali, Congo, Italy and others culled by these newspapers.
As a result of their crookedness, the company tried to re-establish business contacts in Africa using another name but were also found out and kicked out.
“That is why they are now using FRABEMAR UK Ltd to disguise the notoriety of FRABEMAR SRL.
“Italian authorities also investigated Frabemar SRL, charged them to court and thereafter sanctioned them specifically for bribing government officials in Africa.
“The company does not have expertise in cargo tracking; it only deals in pre-shipment inspection and documents verification. They don’t have any life portal, materials etc, to track cargo in a way that it provides an alternative check to the documents provided by the shipping agents. Please understand that the International Cargo Tracking Note Nigeria intended to procure is primarily a security tool that tells the Nigerian Ports Authority, Customs, Ministry of Finance, and Security Agencies in real-time the nature of the products, the exact weight, and the precise value, before the product is even loaded on the vessel to its Destination port. In fact, Frabemar has not done this anywhere in the world,’’ a maritime expert told Persecondnews.
FRABEMAR was founded by Franco Bernardini and acts as a shipping agency that has its roots in West Africa by “unfair methods’’. Bernardini had in some cases during intercontinental negotiations offered large “displacement cars and tips’’.
Persecondnews recalls that Transport Minister, Hon Rotimi Amaechi working with the former ES of Nigerian Shippers Council had singlehandedly appointed Messers Medtech Scientific Ltd in partnership with Rozi International Nig. Ltd, and misinformed the president that Messrs Medtech Scientific Limited was the most qualified from the specialized companies selected to do this tendering, and Rozi International Ltd would be their local content partner.
Curiously, the same expert companies Medtech Scientific Limited have now employed their technical partners Frademar UK Ltd and hidden in small prints in a shabbily done OBC to ICRC, Frademar SRL Genova Italy. While Frademar UK Ltd is registered as a textile trading company, it is actually a shell company used to mask Frademar SRL which is merely a shipping agency. These great efforts to mask Frabemar SRL clearly show that this was a premeditated and well-thought-out fraudulent scheme by Rt Hon Rotimi Amechi and Mr Hassan Bello.
The Honorable Minister who had circumvented due process in the award of the multi-billion dollar contract for the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN), had only recently raised a team, populated with individuals who had been instructed to deliver a prearranged report, to visit Italy and London in a bid to show some semblance of carrying out the required “due diligence’’ as was recommended by ICRC, on the companies. These individuals were drawn from the Nigerian Shippers Council, ICRC, and Federal Ministry of Transportation.
But a simple peep into the companies, coupled with the OBC sent to ICRC by Nigerian Shippers Council would have shown that they have absolutely NO experience and knowledge of the service they want to render. Medtech is a medical equipment supply company registered and operating here in Nigeria, but choose to use their UAE branch for this scheme. The company has neither implemented CTN for any country nor possessed any known platform to do so.
It is also worthy of note that this company had clearly indicated that they were mere “Cargo Tracking Note AGENTS” in the OBC they submitted to Shippers Council/Ministry of Transportation and same submitted to ICRC which had been immensely pressured to issue a very “strange’’ certificate of compliance to.
In his “wisdom’’ and to perpetrate the scam, the minister picked a medical company in Nigeria without professional competence and knowledge in International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN), thereby bypassing known and established procurement laws. This had put him in direct conflict with the “no nonsense” DG of BPP, and is a matter now pending in a federal high court, where an NGO, Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights, had sort and obtained an interim order stopping this monumental fraud about to be committed on Nigerians with the prevailing insecurity and economic challenges, and asking the court to compel BPP and Federal Ministry of Transportation to follow our known procurement laws as set in the procurement act.
ICTN, an electronic cargo verification system, monitors the shipment of seaborne cargo and enables a real-time generation of vital data on ship and cargo traffic in and out of Nigeria. Also known as Advance Shipment Information System, Advance Cargo Declaration, ICTN is a global application in shipping trade that will provide accurate shipping data as well as monitor and verify cargo in transit from the port of loading to the port of destination.
Persecondnews.com investigations show that in a bid to give the contract a semblance of due diligence riding on the requirements demanded by ICRC, after he Amaechi had spurned and called the bluff of the National Security Adviser, retired Major-General Babagana Monguno and the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) who had flagged and queried the non-competitiveness of the multi-billion contract award without the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and BPE as required by law, Amaechi selected a team of loyalists from the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Nigerian Shippers Council and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to embarked on a trip to Italy and UK to perfect the scam, and have since returned and done their report.
The minister had in a four-paragraph letter to the President dated August 19, 2021, stated:“I am requesting that Mr President reconfirms his earlier approval and direct that the ministry engage Messers Medtech Scientific Ltd in partnership with Rozi International Nig. Ltd to be presented to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to avoid delay in the implementation of ICTN.’’
The anticipatory approval of the President obtained outside the Federal Executive Council meeting has continued to set tongues wagging among stakeholders in the industry.
The duo invited the minister to several meetings over security and economic implications of the project which he repudiated and never batted an eye because he had hoodwinked President Muhammadu Buhari to get “a midnight approval.’’
Rising to the occasion and to bust the scam, also, the Civil Society Against Business Malpractices (CSABM) – maritime practitioners and watchers – had blown the whistle on the implementation of ICTN in a 14-page petition dated September 9, 2021 and signed by Aliyu Suleiman (Chairman) and James Zaki (Secretary), alerting the nation of what it called an “unfolding ill-designed plan by persons and institutions to foist a fake ICTN on the country’’, pointing out that Pres. Buhari was “misguided to granting an anticipatory approval for a direct appointment of a puppet company.’’
The insistence of Transport Minister Amaechi to give the job to FRABEMAR and others has continued to raise dusts in Nigeria as the known “international mafia’’ are set to scam the country in collusion with these high and mighty public officials.
Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi had achieved his purpose of getting an anticipatory approval from Mr President, based on misinformation. He has used this approval like its kinds gotten in the past, as a big stick on parastatals under his control, regulatory institutions and senior civil servants in his ministry to do his private bidding.
ICRC had in a 10-page letter stated: “The ICRC has reviewed the OBCs submitted by the Transportation Ministry for ICTN implementation under a PPP arrangement”.
“Based upon an assessment and review of the OBC and all information available, this compliance certificate confirms that the submission is in substantial compliance with the ICRC Act 2005 and the National Policy on Public-Private Partnerships.’’
Without a doubt, this is corruption on steroids. Medtech which was supposed to be an expert in this “very specialized field with very few companies providing this service” as authored by the former ES of Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello, and fully adopted by Rotimi Amaechi, has now sought the services of another expert company, FRABEMAR Uk/SRL who investigations have shown to be well known in the art of bribing African government officials.
With these evidential and humongous fraud and financial crime being perpetrated by this powerful Minister of Transportation against the Nigerian state and the people and the successful compromising of Mr President, the question on the lips of Nigerians is: “Who will alert President Buhari to what is happening under his watch as the head of government and “Mr.Transparency, accountability, due process and anti-corruption?’’
Should the Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the Honorable Minister of Transportation, by error of omission or commission or for lack of monitoring and supervision, be allowed to get away with these crimes against the state?
FRABEMAR and others who are famed “international mafia’’ must be stopped from these sleazy deals and scamming the country in collusion with high and mighty Nigerian public officials. Whither is Nigeria going from here without fighting the corruption scourging us big time in this sector?